By Evan Perez
President Barack Obama's efforts to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are expected to face some crucial Senate votes this week, and for the first time in four years, he stands a chance to win some.
A Senate bill to authorize defense spending contains some of the loosest restrictions yet on transferring Guantanamo prisoners, including possibly to the United States for detention, trial or medical care.
The bill would still require certification from the secretary of defense that the 164 Guantanamo prisoners won't pose a danger if transferred to the United States or other countries. But the streamlined process could help the Obama administration make progress on a goal that appeared all but given up for lost.
This year, the administration is using tight budgets as part of the argument for closing the prison that Obama, in a speech at the National Defense University in May, said was a symbol of the U.S. flouting the law that "should never have been opened."
By Evan Perez
Four years after political opposition killed his plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters in civilian court in Manhattan, Attorney General Eric Holder says: "I was right."
Continued delays in the military trial of Mohammed and four others at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, which may not start until 2015, proves his point, Holder said Monday, interjecting a "not to be egocentric about it" qualifier.
By Jamie Crawford
Some former inmates at the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are still returning to the battlefield, a report from the U.S. intelligence community says.
Of the 603 detainees who have been transferred from the facility since it opened, 100 of them, or 16.6%, have re-engaged in terrorist activity, says an unclassified summary from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released last week.
Three detainees of 71 who were released since January 2009 have gone back to battle, and four others who were transferred from the facility since then are suspected of returning to their old ways.
"Based on trends identified during the past ten years, we assess that if additional detainees are transferred without conditions from GITMO, some will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities," the report said. "Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal stability as well as active recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations pose a particular problem."
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado. Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.
By Larry Shaughnessy
Jeh Johnson recently stepped down as the Pentagon’s top attorney. Now in private practice as a partner at PaulWeiss law firm in Washington, Johnson recently spoke to CNN about some of the issues he faced overseeing the Defense Department’s 10,000 uniformed and civilian lawyers, issues he may be asked about when he speaks at the Aspen Security Forum.
CNN: What is the biggest legal hurdle the Defense Department and Intelligence community face?
Johnson: “I would say that the biggest legal challenge that DoD and the intelligence community face right now is to settle upon a new legal architecture for, what I perceive to be, the next phase of our counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda and other terrorism efforts.
“We’ve been through 12 years of what some people would characterize as conventional armed conflict. And most intelligence experts would agree that core al Qaeda has been decimated and we’re at an inflection point now. And it is most likely the case that the traditional approach to armed conflict is no longer the best approach and so we need, in my view, to develop a legal architecture and a legal strategy that is a whole of government approach that deals with the new terrorist threats in forms that are not necessarily al Qaeda and it’s affiliates.”
By Larry Shaughnessy
Two senior Democratic senators demanded on Tuesday that the United States stop force-feeding certain detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, a public stand that added to a rising chorus of protest over their treatment.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, and Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, registered their strong opposition to the practice during the confirmation hearing of James Comey to become the next FBI director.
"This is inhumane," Feinstein said, noting that she wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the matter but hadn't heard back.
Feinstein traveled to Guantanamo in June with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, where she said she "took a look" at the force feeding issue.
Trapped in legal limbo, detainees at Guantanamo Bay find a way to communicate with the outside world. And, as CNN's Chris Lawrence reports, the writings provide a fascinating window into their grasp of American culture (complete with references to Charlie Sheen and match.com!).
By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer
From the targeted killing of Americans overseas to the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama will lay out the framework and legal rationale for his administration's counterterrorism policy in a widely anticipated speech on Thursday.
Administration officials tell CNN that Obama will use the National Defense University speech to continue to call on engagement with Congress on aspects of national security, more transparency in the use of drones, and a review of threats facing the United States.
He will make the case that the al Qaeda terror network has been weakened, but that new dangers have emerged even as the U.S. winds down operations in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war triggered by the 9/11 attacks.
Threats that have emerged come from al Qaeda affiliates, localized extremist groups, and homegrown terrorists.
The address will also build on remarks Obama made in his annual State of the Union address earlier this year when he said his administration works "tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts."FULL STORY
(CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he continues to believe the United States should close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"I think it's critical for us to understand Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe, it's expensive, it's inefficient, it hurts us in terms of international standing, it lessens cooperation with our allies in counter-terrorism efforts. ... It needs to be closed."
Obama vowed to close the prison when he first came into office, but Congress blocked him from doing so.
Dozens of prisoners at that detention camp are currently on their tenth week of a hunger strike.
U.S. authorities said last week that 84 – half of the prisoners – were not eating.
Carlos Warner, a public defender who represents 11 of the detainees, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week that multiple sources told him the number was actually higher.
By Mike Mount
The U.S. Navy has ordered commercial flights to the military base at Guantanamo, Cuba canceled because of a regulation that had been overlooked for years, outraging lawyers who use the flights to visit their clients at the detention facility.
The order comes as lawyers of detainees held at Guantanamo sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel complaining of tougher treatment of detainees by the base commander who arrived last summer. At least 25 suspected terrorists held at the detention facility are participating in a hunger strike, which lawyers say is a result of the treatment they are receiving.
Navy Capt. John Nettleton, the Naval Station Commanding Officer , notified the small airline, IBC Travel, in late February, according to military officials. The airline was directed to stop flying into Guantanamo by April 30th, but the airline said it would halt flights as of April 5th, according Navy officials.
By Mike Mount and Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
A photo of a listening device in a room where attorneys met with terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay caused a stir this month, but a senior military official says it is a relic from the days when interrogations occurred in the facility.
A military judge hearing the case against the September 11, 2001, terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others ordered the photo released earlier this month.
The device baffled defense lawyers who speak with their Guantanamo clients in the room where the device, which looks like a smoke detector, was hanging.
One of the top military lawyers for the Gitmo detention facility said he looked into the matter and found no one was listening in on privileged conversations, The Miami Herald reported.FULL STORY