By Jacob Sullum
In case you missed the nonevent, the military prison for suspected terrorists and other assorted "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, did not close yesterday. It may be years before it does, assuming President Obama ultimately delivers on that promise. In any case, the policy of keeping people locked up indefinitely without trial will continue, supplemented by a policy of keeping them locked up even if they are tried and acquitted.
The New York Timesreports that "the Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees...because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release." The task force said about 40 other detainees "should be prosecuted for terrorism or related war crimes," but that does not mean they will be released if they are found not guilty.
The remaining 110 or so detainees are supposed to be "repatriated or transferred to other countries for possible release," but it's not clear when they might happen. About 30 of the men are from Yemen, and the Obama administration stopped sending detainees back to that country in light of the Christmas Day airplane bombing plot that originated there.
This is the same mishmash of approaches to War on Terror detainees that the Bush admininstration took: release some, try some in civilian court, try some before military tribunals, keep the rest imprisoned indefinitely. Maybe the proportions will be different. A few weeks ago, I asked, "What’s the difference between Obama’s anti-terrorism policies and Bush's?" Still wondering.