13 February 2004
Special Review Panel Planned for Guantanamo Detainees
Defense Department report, February 13: Detainee procedures
The Defense Department plans to form a special administrative
review panel to place the cases of individual detainees at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, under continual review, a department official says.
In addition to the already elaborate procedures currently in place
to screen, categorize and process detainees captured in Afghanistan
and Iraq, the new review panel will be an additional level of scrutiny
for those who continue to be held in Guantanamo, says Paul Butler,
deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee operations.
Butler briefed the media February 13 at the Pentagon, along with
Major General Geoffrey Miller, commander of the Guantanamo Joint
The review panel will meet often enough to ensure that each detainee's
case is reviewed annually "to determine whether that detainee
continues to pose a threat to the United States," Butler said.
"The detainee will have the opportunity to appear in person
before that panel. The detainee's foreign government will have
the opportunity to submit information on the detainee's behalf.
And the panel will consider all of the information, including intelligence
information gained on the detainee and the information presented
by the detainee and the government, and to make an independent
recommendation about whether the detainee should be held," Butler
It has not yet been decided, according to Butler, who will make
appointments to the review panel or to whom the panel will make
its recommendations, though most likely it will be to the secretary
of defense. Nor is there yet a time frame for when the panel will
begin its work, he said. Those details and others are under "active
consideration," he said.
Butler said not all detainees will be held for long periods. Detainees
are divided into three categories, he said: those potentially eligible
for release; those eligible for transfer to their own government;
and those who will remain in detention in Guantanamo.
"We're reviewing people to determine whether they're still
a threat," Butler said. "And if they are determined to
be a threat, then we will continue to hold them until such time
as they're not a threat anymore."
Butler also said that the United States is "not interested
in holding anyone for one more day than we have to. ... The panel
is designed to ensure that there is continued process that addresses
the concerns that we all share.... And if through our present procedures
... the detainee has not been released, these are additional procedures
to make sure that ... even if the war ends in stages, that there's
constant review of these detainees to make sure that nobody's there
any longer than they have to be."
Asked whether the detainees, some of whom have been held for almost
two years, still have any intelligence value to the United States,
General Miller said, "We continue to get extraordinarily valuable
intelligence from the detainees who are at Guantanamo.
"It's our responsibility to make an assessment and recommendation
on the detainees' intelligence value and their risk," Miller
said. "We do that every day and that process is ongoing. Some
are getting very close for us to make a recommendation; others,
who are enormously dangerous and have ... intelligence of enormous
value, are still in this process."