Judicial Watch • Judicial Watch Obtains Bush Defense Department Documents Detailing Terrorist Threat Posed by Guantanamo Detainees

Judicial Watch Obtains Bush Defense Department Documents Detailing Terrorist Threat Posed by Guantanamo Detainees

Judicial Watch Obtains Bush Defense Department Documents Detailing Terrorist Threat Posed by Guantanamo Detainees

MARCH 02, 2011

“There is substantial risk that detainees at Guantanamo, upon release, would set out to kill Americans or other innocent civilians around the world.” White House Spokesman Jay Carney on February 17, 2011: “The president remains committed to closing Guantanamo.”

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Washington, DC — March 2, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it received documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing the policies of the Bush administration related to the detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the significant risks to the general population if the detainees were released. The records, obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), include a “Summary of Conclusions” for a June 19, 2003, meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee, which included top Bush administration officials, as well as a February 4, 2004, draft presentation entitled “Guantanamo Detainees” that was previously marked “Not for Public Dissemination.”
Among the highlights from these documents obtained by Judicial Watch:

  • The NSC Summary of Conclusions includes a detailed list of Bush administration officials who attended the June 19, 2003 meeting, including: Former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who chaired the meeting; Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Former Attorney General John Ashcroft; Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, among others. The meeting included representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and Justice as well as the Office of Vice President, CIA, White House Counsel, Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Council.
  • According to the NSC Summary of Conclusions document, meeting participants requested another briefing to “include information regarding efforts to ensure that detainees who are released are prepared to be reintegrated into their societies and, to the extent possible, will not harbor ill will towards the United States.” [Emphasis added]
  • The Department of Defense briefing document, entitled “Guantanamo Detainees,” clearly stated the dangers of releasing enemy combatants currently held at Guantanamo Bay into the general population:
    • “There is substantial risk that detainees at Guantanamo, upon release, would set out to kill Americans or other innocent civilians around the world.”
    • “Releases are not without risk if the individuals decide to resume fighting against us. Even though we have been careful and thorough in our screening, we now believe that several of the released detainees have returned to fight against the US and coalition forces.”
  • The Defense Department briefing also includes a detailed chronology of the threat posed by al-Qaida beginning in 1996, biographies on some of the enemy combatants being detained, intelligence gathered from these detainees and a discussion about the Bush administration’s policies regarding the processing and treatment of detainees.

Two days after his inauguration, Barack Obama signed an executive order directing that Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year. The Obama administration, while disparaging the military tribunal process, pledged instead to bring terrorist suspects to justice using the civilian court system. To date, however, the Guantanamo Bay facility remains open. Moreover, on February 18, 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the chances of closing the Guantanamo Bay facility are “very, very low” due to congressional opposition. CIA Director Leon Panetta, meanwhile, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 17, 2011, that, if Osama bin Laden were captured, he would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay.When asked about Panetta’s statement contradicting the expressed policy of the president, White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “The president remains committed to closing Guantanamo.”“These documents provide further evidence that closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp would be a dangerous and disastrous decision. The fact is that the Obama administration has completely mishandled the Guantanamo Bay facility from the outset. The intelligence community is shouting from the rooftops about the dangers of hastily closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing terrorists into the public. And these documents show that the government has known for years that terrorists released from Gitmo commit more terrorism and fight and kill our troops—yet both the Bush administration and Obama administration keep releasing terrorists,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.(Judicial Watch Civil Litigation Director, attorney Paul Orfanedes, visited Guantanamo Bay in 2008 to monitor military commission proceedings against top 9/11 conspirators. Judicial Watch’s presence provided some balance to the ACLU and other radical groups advocating for the terrorist detainees.)

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