The Obama administration on Monday for the first time released the names of the 48 prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay military prison who may spend the rest of their lives there without trial.
Until today, the identities of the detainees that the Obama administration has determined to be too dangerous to release, yet unable to be prosecuted in a court of law, has remained secret. The Miami Herald on Monday reported that it had obtained the full list of the individuals from the government following a Freedom of Information Act request, resulting in a list of four dozen names.
After President Obama signed his 2009 Executive Order to close the base’s prison, an administration task force sifted through the evidence against all of the prisoners who remained in the base. In 2010, the panel concluded that the evidence against 48 of the detainees was either too flimsy or too tainted to be allowed to stand in a criminal court, but that each of them were also too dangerous to be released or transferred to another country’s captivity. With this admission, the only remaining authority remaining to hold these individuals is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, under which these men are held as a form of war prisoner which the Bush administration claimed was outside the bounds of the Geneva Conventions’ rules.
While the identities of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners was previously known, this is the first time the administration has publicly acknowledged those listed as being ineligible for release, transfer, or prosecution. Each of the detainees are indexed with a serial number and their nationality, with two asterisks denoting prisoners who died during their captivity. As a result of the release, we now know that the prisoners hail from a multitude of Muslim-majority countries, including not just the declared war zone in Afghanistan, but also from undeclared conflict zones like Somalia and Yemen.
Several of the detainees on the indefinite detention list are currently participating in the prisoners’ on-going hunger strike, according to the Herald. This includes Yemeni prisoner Abdal Malik al Wahab, who, according to his lawyer, vowed in March to fast until he was out of Guantanamo “dead or alive.” As of Monday, 104 of the 166 detainees left in the prison were participating in the strike. Of those striking, 44 are being force-fed to keep them alive, a practice that has been condemned as “torture.”
President Obama last month announced that he would renew his efforts to close the base, one of his campaign promises when running for his first term. House Republicans rebuked those efforts once again last week, voting through a defense authorization bill that contained provisions to extend a ban on spending funds to close the facility. Democrats offered several amendments to reverse this decision, which were all voted down on the House floor.