Panel to Review Guantanamo Detainees

By K.L. Vantran

Suspected terrorists held at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will have the opportunity to appear before an administrative review panel according to the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee operations said.

The panel will review each detainee’s case annually to determine if that detainee continues to pose a threat to the United States, said Paul Butler. He added that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked about the new initiative earlier today in remarks to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

The detainee’s foreign government will also have the opportunity to submit information on the detainee’s behalf, said Butler. "The panel will consider all information, including intelligence information gained on the detainee," he added.

Detainees are not in a "legal black hole," said Butler. "There is an enormous amount of time spent scrutinizing each individual case through various agencies of the government to help us determine who these people are."

"We are not interested in holding anyone for one more day than we have to," he said. "We want to evaluate them (and) if we can reach the conclusion that they’re no longer a threat, we’ll release them. If we believe we can reach transfer agreements with foreign governments who will take responsibility for them so they’re no longer a threat to us or to their populations, (they’ll be transferred)."

Some detainees have been at the Cuban base for two months, some for two years, said Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

The general said there’s a very thorough process to determine a detainee’s intelligence value and threat.

He said there are three types of intelligence: tactical, operational and strategic. Taken along with what the enemy combatant was doing when captured, "this allows us to better understand how terrorists are recruited, how terrorism is sustained – how financial networks power terrorism," Miller added.

"(We) continue to get extraordinarily valuable intelligence from detainees," he said.