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Rogue Pentagon Officials Thwart White House Efforts to Close Guantanamo

Guard tower at dawn at Camp Delta the military prison at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay Cuba

An investigation has revealed the tactics used by Pentagon officials to prevent the transferal or freeing of prisoners from Guantanamo, despite the wishes of the White House.

US Defense Department officials have used several tactics to delay or stop prisoners from leaving the Guantanamo Bay prison since US President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, when he signed an executive order to close the facility.

According to data from Human Rights First, 242 prisoners were held there at the start of Obama’s presidency; as of November 2015, 107 were still being held there, 90 of whom have been imprisoned for more than ten years.

One detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, was transferred to the US for prosecution for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings. Four of the 242 died in custody, and 131 prisoners have been transferred, repatriated or resettled under Obama.

Since the prison opened in 2002, a total of 780 detainees have been incarcerated at Guantanamo. The cost of holding a prisoner there is more than $3 million per year.

According to an investigation Reuters published last week, the Pentagon’s refusal to cooperate with the process of transferring, repatriating or resettling prisoners has resulted in them spending years longer than necessary in Guantanamo.

Officials from the White House and State Department have revealed that their Defense Department counterparts refused to provide photographs, complete medical records and other basic documentation to foreign governments willing to take detainees.

James Dobbins, the State Department special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to 2014 told the agency that negotiating prisoner releases with the Pentagon was like “punching a pillow,” and that its officials would “come to a meeting, they would not make a counter-argument … and then nothing would happen.”

Four Afghan detainees spent an additional four years at Guantanamo after they had been approved for transfer because of the inaction of the Pentagon. The transfers of prisoners to Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Mauritania and Britain were also delayed for months, said Dobbins.

​Omar Farah, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainee Tariq Ba Odah, on the revelations that Pentagon officials obstruct White House efforts to free prisoners and close the prison.

Yemeni prisoner Tariq Ba Odah, who is on hunger strike, is one of those who remains at Guantanamo despite having been cleared for release five years ago.

“At the moment Tariq Ba Odah is being kept in solitary confinement in Guantanamo and force fed, even though they could have released him long ago. The government of one country has already said they will take him. In order to agree his release, there just remains a couple of formalities, for example, demonstration of his medical history, so that that country can decide if it can provide the necessary medical assistance for him,” Bo Odah’s lawyer, Omar Farah, told RT.

Guantánamo Bay detainee Tariq Ba Odah
Guantánamo Bay detainee Tariq Ba Odah

“But regardless of the fact that the National Security Council has intervened on more than one occasion, the Defense Department stubbornly refuses to carry out this simple bureaucratic procedure.

In my view, this behavior cannot be characterized as anything other than intentional. This is just more proof that the Defense Department is preventing the closure of Guantanamo.”

Farah said that in order to fulfill his pledge and finally close the prison during his final year in office, Obama must use his executive powers to force the intervention of the Department of Justice, which could issue court orders forcing the Defense Department to comply with the release of prisoners.

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Posted by on January 4, 2016, With 2046 Reads Filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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3 Responses to "Rogue Pentagon Officials Thwart White House Efforts to Close Guantanamo"

  1. cynthiamaccioli  January 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Oh please!! who wrote this article? Stop making excuses for Obama’s inactions. Obama released Pollard with one swipe of his pen yet his hands are tied due to scum sucking lawyers and Pentagon ass wipes? Name me one decent humanitarian act this puppet has done in 8 years. This is the only opportunity Obama has to do right by these innocent imprisoned men. Even if some were guilty, I don’t care, they did their time and should be released. Obama is the heavy weight champion of liars and chicken-shits. McCain is the only contender.

    • Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor  January 4, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Obama did not release him. Pollard had done his 30 years. I have no idea if new charges were possible after all of these years but what he really did “they” don’t want Americans to know as we had really slack counter intelligence in those days. There was almost no programs for having high security people looked at closely from time to time. His bank accounts were a huge red flag as the Pollards were living way beyond their means. Frankly, there was no much interest in spending money on stuff like that, and it wasn’t.

  2. maggie  January 4, 2016 at 8:00 am

    What a snapshot of ‘the way it is’…
    So much for being “Commander In Chief”.

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