Your Monday Morning Tea: Let's talk Guantanamo Bay

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Let's Talk About Guantanamo Bay  ("GITMO")

23 Photo's of "GITMO"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-ndaa-closing-guantanamo_...

The following article is from Media Matters dated  2/23/2016

The full narrative is provided as a means to present "both" sides of the issue.

President Obama on February 23 announced plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Right-wing media responded with misinformation, bringing up a debunked recidivism statistic, claiming that the prison is no longer used for propaganda or recruiting efforts, and saying the president is undermining Congress' concerns about housing detainees in facilities in the United States.

Obama: "I'm Absolutely Committed To Closing The Detention Facility At Guantanamo."

During a February 23 speech, President Obama said he is "absolutely committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo," stating that it "does not advance our national security," but rather "undermines it" and "harms our partnership with allies and other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism." He said the Department of Defense, working with the Office of Management and Budget, would be submitting a plan to Congress "for finally closing the facility at Guantanamo once and for all." Obama discussed "securely and responsibly transfer[ing] to other countries the 35 detainees -- out of 91 -- that have already been approved for transfer," accelerating "periodic reviews of remaining detainees to determine whether their continued detention is necessary," using "all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees still held under law of war detention," and working "with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees." From a transcript of his speech: 

For many years, it's been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security -- it undermines it. This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of experts, this is the opinion of many in our military. It's counterproductive to our fight against terrorists, because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit. It drains military resources, with nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running, and more than $200 million in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward for less than 100 detainees. Guantanamo harms our partnerships with allies and other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism. When I talk to other world leaders, they bring up the fact that Guantanamo is not resolved.

[...] 

Today, the Defense Department, thanks to very hard work by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, as well as his team, working in concert with the Office of Management and Budget, today, the Department is submitting to Congress our plan for finally closing the facility at Guantanamo once and for all. 

[...] 

First, we'll continue to securely and responsibly transfer to other countries the 35 detainees -- out of the 91 -- that have already been approved for transfer. Keep in mind, this process involves extensive and careful coordination across our federal government to ensure that our national security interests are met when an individual is transferred to another country. So, for example, we insist that foreign countries institute strong security measures. And as we move forward, that means that we will have around 60 -- and potentially even fewer -- detainees remaining.

Second, we'll accelerate the periodic reviews of remaining detainees to determine whether their continued detention is necessary. Our review board, which includes representatives from across government, will continue to look at all relevant information, including current intelligence. And if certain detainees no longer pose a continuing significant threat, they may be eligible for transfer to another country as well.

Number three, we'll continue to use all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees still held under law of war detention. Currently, 10 detainees are in some stage of the military commissions process -- a process that we worked hard to reform in my first year in office with bipartisan support from Congress. But I have to say, with respect to these commissions, they are very costly, they have resulted in years of litigation without a resolution. We're therefore outlining additional changes to improve these commissions, which would require congressional action, and we will be consulting with them in the near future on that issue. 

[...]

Fourth, and finally, we're going to work with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees. These are detainees who are subject to military commissions, but it also includes those who cannot yet be transferred to other countries or who we've determined must continue to be detained because they pose a continuing significant threat to the United States. 

We are not identifying a specific facility today in this plan. We are outlining what options look like. As Congress has imposed restrictions that currently prevent the transfer of detainees to the United States, we recognize that this is going to be a challenge. And we're going to keep making the case to Congress that we can do this is (sic) a responsible and secure way, taking into account the lessons and great record of our maximum-security prisons.

[...]

I'm absolutely committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. I'm going to continue to make the case for doing so for as long as I hold this office. But this is a good moment for everybody to step back, take a look at the facts, take a look at the views of those who have been most committed to fighting terrorism and understand this stuff -- our operatives, our intelligence officials, our military. [Whitehouse.gov, Office of the Press Secretary, 2/23/16

Department of Defense Submitted Plan To Congress.

On February 23, the Department of Defense "formally submitted the administration's plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to Congress." The plan goes into detail about the four points mentioned during Obama's speech:

The Department of Defense formally submitted the administration's plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to Congress today. As the president has stated, responsibly closing the Guantanamo detention facility is a national security imperative. For this reason, among others, Secretary Carter supports the president's commitment to bringing a responsible end to detention at Guantanamo.

[...]

The plan provides a way ahead for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which will markedly enhance our national security, while continuing to treat all detainees in U.S. custody in a manner that is consistent with international and domestic law. The plan has four primary tenets:

  1. Securely and responsibly transferring to foreign countries detainees who have been designated for transfer by the president's national security team;
  2. Continuing to review the threat posed by those detainees who are not currently eligible for transfer through the Periodic Review Board (PRB);
  3. Identifying individualized dispositions for those who remain designated for continued law of war detention, including possible Article III, military commission, or foreign prosecutions;
  4. Working with the Congress to establish a location in the United States to securely hold detainees whom we cannot at this time transfer to foreign countries or who are subject to military commission proceedings.

The plan does not endorse a specific facility to house Guantanamo detainees who cannot be safely transferred to other countries at this time. The administration seeks an active dialogue with Congress on this issue and looks forward to working with Congress to identify the most appropriate location as soon as possible. [U.S. Department of Defense, 2/23/16]

Right Wing Media Attacks The Plan With Misinformation

MYTH: 30 Percent Of Transferred Guantanamo Detainees Return To Terrorism

Fox's Doug McKelway: "Recidivism Rate Among Those Prisoners Who Have Been Repatriated ... Hovers In The 30 Percent Range." During the February 23 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, reporter Doug McKelway claimed, "the recidivism rate among those prisoners who have been repatriated to other countries hovers in the 30 percent range, according to intelligence estimates":

BILL HEMMER (HOST): Doug, this is a topic that came up in our debate in Des Moines, Iowa, about a month ago. If Gitmo is closed, what happens to ISIS fighters captured on the battlefield?

DOUG MCKELWAY: Well, from what we're hearing, there is nothing in this report which deals with how to handle future ISIS fighters who have been captured. So we just don't know anything about that at this point. In addition, there are over 90 prisoners who still remain at Guantanamo -- 35 are allegedly set to be shipped out to other countries by this summer, which leaves 59 here in the United States to be divvied out among the various locations that are proposed in this DoD report. Top general here said last summer that the guys who remain at Gitmo are the worst of the worst. The recidivism rate among those prisoners who have been repatriated to other countries hovers in the 30 percent range, according to intelligence estimates. The president, however, says that rate is much, much lower. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 2/23/16]

FACT: Claims of 30 Percent Recidivism Have Been Debunked And Rate Has Actually Declined Under Obama

PolitiFact: Claim That 30 Percent Of Released Guantanamo Detainees Return To Terror "Mostly False." PolitiFact found that the suggestion that 30 percent of released Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to "terrorist or insurgent activity" includes those who are both confirmed of re-engaging as well as those who are just suspected of doing so, and it does not account for those who have either been killed or recaptured. In reality, the overall recidivism rate is closer to 9 percent, and during Obama's presidency, it has averaged 6.8 percent. PolitiFact explains:

To get near that 30 percent figure, we have to group together those confirmed of re-engaging and those suspected of re-engaging. Also, of those 107 confirmed of re-engaging, 48 are either dead or in custody.

So in total, 59 of 620 released Guantanamo detainees -- or about 9 percent -- are confirmed by the government to have re-engaged in terrorism and are currently at large. [PolitiFact, 1/15/15]

Obama's Former Envoy To Close Guantanamo: 30 Percent Claim Is "Deeply Flawed."

The Associated Press highlighted the dispute over the recidivism rate, noting that Clifford Sloan, the former State Department envoy for closing Guantanamo, argued that the 30 percent recidivism rate is "deeply flawed." Sloan explained that the number "combines those 'confirmed' of having engaged in hostile activities with those 'suspected'" and further ignores that "many of the 'confirmed' have been killed or recaptured." Sloan explained that the "percentage of detainees who were transferred after the Obama-era review and then found to have engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities is 6.8 percent":

What both sides are saying:

[...]

CLIFFORD SLOAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ENVOY FOR CLOSING GUANANAMO BAY

"Opponents of closing Guantanamo ... cite a 30 percent recidivism rate among former detainees. This assertion is deeply flawed. It combines those 'confirmed' of having engaged in hostile activities with those 'suspected.' Focusing on the 'confirmed' slashes the percentage nearly in half. Moreover, many of the 'confirmed' have been killed or recaptured.

[...]

"Of the detainees transferred during this administration, more than 90 percent have not been suspected, much less confirmed, of committing any hostile activities after their release.The percentage of detainees who were transferred after the Obama-era review and then found to have engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities is 6.8 percent.While we want that number to be zero, that small percentage does not justify holding in perpetuity the overwhelming majority of detainees who do not subsequently engage in wrongdoing." [Associated Press,1/14/15]

PolitiFact: Most Recidivism Happened During President Bush's Administration. PolitiFact notes that while 19 percent of released detainees were confirmed of re-engaging during Bush's administration, the number has declined to 6.8 percent throughout President Obama's term:

The numbers show that the majority of releases that have resulted in re-engagement happened before 2009 -- during former President George W. Bush's administration.

Here's the total number of released detainees and their re-engagement rates broken down over those two periods:

[PolitiFact, 1/15/15]

LA Times: Administration Says Few Guantanamo Detainees Turn To Terrorism After Release. In a January 14, 2015, piece, the Los Angeles Times reported on the State Department's recidivism figures:

In a statement, a senior State Department official said 19% of detainees released before President Obama took office in 2009 had been confirmed to have turned to terrorism, and 14.3% were suspected of doing so.

The number of confirmed cases among those released since 2009 has fallen to 6.8%, with the rate of those suspected at 1.1%, according to the official, who declined to be identified under administration ground rules. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/15]

MYTH: Guantanamo Bay Is Not Used For Propaganda Or Recruiting Of Terrorists

Fox's Jack Keane: Guantanamo Bay "Is No Longer A Propaganda Tool ... That's A Myth." During the February 23 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Gen. Jack Keane claimed that Guantanamo Bay is "no longer a propaganda tool," saying, "ISIS doesn't even talk about, and the new Al Qaeda affiliates don't talk about it either, so that is no longer an issue":

JACK KEANE: The facts have changed, Martha. That is really the issue here. And it is no longer a propaganda tool -- to continue to say that, that's really unfortunate because that's a myth. ISIS doesn't even talk about it, and the new Al Qaeda affiliates don't talk about either, so that is no longer an issue. It may have been an issue at one time, but it is not the issue we are facing today. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 2/23/16]

FACT: Military and Intelligence Experts Have Stated That Guantanamo Bay Has Been Used For Propaganda and Recruiting Efforts

Human Rights First: "There Is No Doubt The Detention Center At Guantanamo Bay ... Continues To Be A Powerful Propaganda Tool For Violent Terrorists." A May 2015 Human Rights First issue brief explained that "the detention center at Guantanamo Bay has been, and continues to be, a powerful propaganda tool for violent terrorists who seek to harm the United States." The brief cites Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying, "[I]t has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us." The brief identified "numerous examples of al Qaeda, its affiliates, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or Islamic State) using the prison at Guantanamo Bay in their propaganda since 2009":

National security experts and U.S. officials have long stated that the Guantanamo Bay detention center acts as a powerful propaganda symbol in terrorist groups' recruiting materials. According to Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "[I]t has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us." President George W. Bush wrote in his memoir Decision Points, "[T]he detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies." President Obama agrees, most recently saying, "It is used by terrorists around the world to help recruit jihadists." In this brief, we demonstrate exactly how al Qaeda and ISIS use the existence of the offshore prison and the notorious mistreatment of detainees there Guantanamo Bay to their advantage by providing examples.

We identify here numerous examples of al Qaeda, its affiliates, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or Islamic State) using the prison at Guantanamo Bay in their propaganda since 2009. The groups reference Guantanamo Bay mostly in an attempt to paint the United States as hypocritical and amoral, and as a call to arms for fellow Muslims, but also in more simplistic, symbolic terms (ISIL use of orange jumpsuits for their hostages, for example).

This is not an exhaustive list, but attempts to point out many relevant examples. Of course, Guantanamo is not to blame for any of the crimes committed by these groups and it is not the only or even primary reason for al Qaeda or ISIL targeting the United States. But there is no doubt that the detention center at Guantanamo has been, and continues to be, a powerful propaganda tool for violent terrorists who seek to harm the United States. [Human Rights First, May 2015]

The Atlantic: "How Guantanamo Bay's Existence Helps Al-Qaeda Recruit More Terrorists." An April 2013 article from The Atlantic outlined how "the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay is damaging [United States] national security on a daily basis," stating that it has "often been the focus of jihadist media and propaganda":

While these human rights issues are egregious in their own right, and a vigilant minority continues to pressure the Obama administration on the situation, in the bigger picture, the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay is damaging our national security on a daily basis.

Guantanamo Bay has often been the focus of jihadist media and propaganda. Just recently, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan--the mouthpiece of the Taliban-- put out a statement calling attention to the ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. The brief message claims that the hunger strike at the prison has been going on for forty days (as of March 24) and calls for international rights organizations to "spread awareness about the plight of the destitute inmates." Guantanamo Bay has become a salient issue used in jihadist propaganda.

In 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the first issue of Inspire, their English language recruitment magazine. To date, AQAP has released 10 issues of Inspire, and the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has been featured prominently in several issues.

In the 2010 inaugural issue of Inspire, an essay by Osama bin Laden mentions "the crimes at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo . . . which shook the conscience of humanity." Tellingly, bin Laden points out that "there has been no mentionable change" at Guantanamo and the prison is noted again later in the issue.

Gitmo features even more prominently in Issue 2 of Inspire. The essays of Abu Sufyan al-Azdi and Uthman al-Gamidi, two former detainees who returned to AQAP upon their release, call new individuals to join the jihad, whether at home or abroad. In Issue 7, Yahya Ibrahim notes that Guantanamo Bay "exposed the West for what it really is" and "showed the world the American understanding of human rights."

Most troubling, in the latest issue of Inspire released early this month, AQAP mentions Guantanamo Bay several times. In a prelude to the attention that the hunger strikers have been paid lately, Abu Musab al-Suri notes that Guantanamo is not only "filled with . . . mujahedeen" but also with "hundreds of innocent civilians." While it is quite rich to hear AQAP's concern for the plight of innocent civilians, given the high number of Yemenis cleared for release still at Guantanamo, this is a very salient message for AQAP's base in Yemen. [The Atlantic, 4/12/13]

MYTH: Obama Administration and Defense Department Are Undermining Congress By Selecting A U.S. Location For Detainees

FoxNews.com: Obama Administration "In Recent Months Submitted A Draft Plan With 13 New, Potential U.S. Locations." A February 23 FoxNews.com article claimed the Obama administration "submitted a draft plan with 13 new, potential U.S. locations," including "seven prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas, and six others on military bases" and "brushed aside" "opposition" from "members representing South Carolina, Kansas and Colorado" who "argue that such a facility" in their state "poses a national security risk":

The administration in recent months submitted a draft plan with 13 new, potential U.S. locations -- seven prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas, and six others on military bases.

[...]

Congress has been demanding the Guantanamo plan for months, and members representing South Carolina, Kansas and Colorado have voiced opposition to housing the detainees in their states.

Those members and others in the GOP-controlled Congress argue that such a facility poses a national security risk, particularly a terror attack -- concerns that Obama brushed aside in Tuesday's opening remarks.

He acknowledged the idea of detainees on U.S. soil "can be scary." But he argued that terrorists who tried or successfully carried out attacks on Times Square, at the Boston Marathon and on a commercial jet head to Detroit have been convicted in a federal court and are in U.S. prisons. [FoxNews.com, 2/23/16]

FACT: The Administration and Department Of Defense Will Work With Congress To Chose A Secure Location

Obama: "We Are Going To Work With Congress To Find A Secure Location In The United States To Hold Remaining Detainees." During his February 23 speech, Obama stated that he and the Department of Defense will work "with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees," and "are not identifying a specific facility today in this plan":

Fourth, and finally, we're going to work with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees. These are detainees who are subject to military commissions, but it also includes those who cannot yet be transferred to other countries or who we've determined must continue to be detained because they pose a continuing significant threat to the United States. 

We are not identifying a specific facility today in this plan. We are outlining what options look like. As Congress has imposed restrictions that currently prevent the transfer of detainees to the United States, we recognize that this is going to be a challenge. And we're going to keep making the case to Congress that we can do this is a responsible and secure way, taking into account the lessons and great record of our maximum-security prisons. [Whitehouse.gov, Office of the Press Secretary, 2/23/16]

Department of Defense: "This Plan Does Not Endorse A Specific Facility To House Guantanamo Detainees."

The Department of Defense's February 23 statement stated that "the plan does not endorse a specific facility to house Guantanamo detainees" and that the "administration seeks an active dialogue with Congress on the issue and looks forward to working with Congress":

The plan does not endorse a specific facility to house Guantanamo detainees who cannot be safely transferred to other countries at this time. The administration seeks an active dialogue with Congress on this issue and looks forward to working with Congress to identify the most appropriate location as soon as possible. [U.S. Department of Defense, 2/23/16]

THE ROADBLOCK FOR THE PRESIDENT IN CLOSING THE DETAINEE CENTER

On November 15th 2015 Congress passed S. 1356: "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016" which was signed by the president on November 26

Bill and Summary links below:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1356    Passed 585 pages  11/15/15    BILL SUMMARY:   https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1356/summary

And it specifically states: ( I have provided sections 1031-1045 from the NDAA Summary document for your information.)

Subtitle D--Counterterrorism

Section1031 -
Prohibits the use of funds to transfer or release detainees at Guantanamo to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions.

Section1032 -
Prohibits DOD from using funds to modify or construct any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any detainee transferred from Guantanamo for the purposes of detention or imprisonment in the custody or under control of DOD.

Section1033 -
Prohibits DOD from using funds for the transfer or release of any individual detained at Guantanamo to Libya, Somalia, Syria, or Yemen.

Section1034 -
Prohibits DOD from using funds to transfer or release any individual detained at Guantanamo to the individual's country of origin or any other foreign country or entity, unless DOD provides a certification to Congress addressing specified requirements.

Section1035 -
Requires DOD to submit to Congress a strategy for the detention of current and future individuals captured and held pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force pending the end of hostilities.

Section1036 -
Prohibits the use of funds to: (1) close or abandon Guantanamo, (2) relinquish control of Guantanamo to Cuba, or (3) implement a material modification to the 1934 Treaty Between the United States of America and Cuba that constructively closes Guantanamo.

Section1037 -
Requires DOD to submit to Congress a report including a list of the individuals detained at Guantanamo who have been determined or assessed by Joint Task Force Guantanamo to be a high-risk or medium-risk threat to the United States, its interests, or its allies.

Section1038 -
Amends the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 to include in a required report on Guantanamo detainees a description of any information or discussion about planning for or conducting hostilities against the United States or its allies or partners, or information on the organizational, logistical, or resource needs or activities of any terrorist group.

Section1039 -
Requires the President to include in reports to Congress details regarding recidivism of individuals formerly detained at Guantanamo.

Section1040 -
Requires DOD and the Department of State to jointly submit to Congress a report describing the terms of any written agreement between the U.S. and the government of the foreign country concerned regarding each individual detained at Guantanamo who was transferred to a foreign country pursuant to a negotiated transfer.

Section1041 -
Requires DOD to report to Congress on the use by terrorist organizations of images and symbols relating to Guantanamo or any other DOD or Bureau of Prisons detention facility for recruitment and propaganda purposes.

Section1042 -
Makes permanent the authority of DOD to issue rewards for providing U.S. personnel or allied forces participating in a combined operation with information or nonlethal assistance that is beneficial to force protection or an operation or activity against international terrorism. Modifies reporting requirements for the rewards.

Section1043 -
Removes on December 31, 2017, an exemption of operations executed within the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force from congressional notification requirements for sensitive military operations.

Section1044 -
Modifies reporting requirements for funds related to programs for combating terrorism.

Section1045 -

Limits interrogation techniques to those that are authorized and listed in the Army Field Manual, with an exception for federal law enforcement officials.

Requires DOD to review and revise the Army Field Manual to ensure that it complies with the legal obligations of the United States and reflects practices for interrogation that do not involve the use or threat of force.

Requires the interagency body established pursuant to Executive Order 13491 (commonly known as the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group) to report to DOD and other specified agencies on best practices for interrogation that do not involve the use of force.

Requires the head of any U.S. department or agency to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with access to detainees.

ADDITIONALLY: Speaker RYAN on Feb. 24th

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday Republicans are taking legal steps to stop President Barack Obama from closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a day after the president unveiled his plan to shutter the facility and move the detainees to the United States.

Ryan told reporters that lawmakers have the votes to block Obama's plan in Congress and enough votes to override any veto. Separately, the Wisconsin Republican said the GOP is "preparing our legal challenge" to ensure the prison remains open and detainees aren't moved to the U.S.

Earlier this month, House Republicans awarded the Jones Day law firm a $150,000 contract to perform the legal work in case Obama tries to move Guantanamo detainees to federal prisons.

Full Article Below

http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-02-24/speaker-leg...

With all of that said... The following links provides you with added information

History of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_Naval_Base

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/23/politics/guantanamo-bay-obama-prison-...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-ndaa-closing-guantanamo_...

For future reference this information is available on the main page of the website at:
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"The time has come for President Obama to formally rescind his order to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay

and end his irresponsible allegations of injustices at the facility,

which operates in a framework that respects the rule of law, keeps terrorists off American soil,

and bolsters our national security."

Jason Chaffetz

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