55 Guantanamo Detainees Were Cleared For Release Three Years Ago, But Are Still Held At Gitmo

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who died in Guantanamo Bay though he was repeatedly approved for release

The Justice Department released the names of 55 prisoners still being held in Guantanamo Bay three years after the Obama administration’s Guantanamo Bay Task Force cleared them for transfer. The disclosure comes a month after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the names and will help the detainees’ attorneys publicly advocate for their release.

DOJ previously suggested releasing the names “could confuse, undermine, or jeopardize our diplomatic efforts . . . and could put at risk our ability to move as many people to safe and responsible locations as might otherwise be the case.” Late last week, however, they announced that they no longer fear doing so will endanger diplomatic efforts:

In the over two years since the Task Force completed its status reviews, circumstances have changed such that the decisions by the Task Force approving detainees for transfer no longer warrant protection. The efforts of the United States to resettle Guantanamo detainees have largely been successful – they have resulted in 40 detainees being resettled in third countries because of treatment or other concerns in their countries of origin since 2009. In addition, 28 detainees have been repatriated to their countries of origin since 2009. Consequently, the diplomatic and national security harms identified in the Fried Declaration are no longer as acute. In Respondents’ view, there is no longer a need to withhold from the public the status of detainees who have been approved for transfer.

More than a third of the men who have been languishing in Guantanamo for the past three years are from Yemen, which is not considered stable enough to receive the detainees. One name not included on the list was Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who died earlier this month after the Department of Defense twice recommended he be transferred out of Guantanamo.

The Justice Department recently lost a case in which they attempted to block detainees’ access to counsel. The ACLU has also sued for the names of prisoners in indefinite detention, conditional detention and prosecution.