Interim task force report on US detention policy released – full reports delayed

The work of a Justice Department-led task force, which had been scheduled to send a report on detention policy to President Obama on Tuesday, will be extended for six months, according to The Washington Post. A second task force examining interrogation policy will get a two-month extension to complete its work, which had also been due Tuesday.

An interim report by the task force on detention policy said that “many important questions remain”, but it indicated that the ‘US Enemies’ should be held accountable in two “mutually complementing” fora: federal courts and military commissions. The task force prefers that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be tried in criminal courts, but that some suspected terrorists in less-prominent cases or in cases with weaker evidence could go before military tribunals, because ” federal courts have not traditionally been used to try violations of the laws of war, and that they are not always best suited to the task.”

Officials signaled to Politico “their intention to try to separate [the Guantanamo] issue from the broader issue of whether the U.S. should have a preventive detention law that would govern war-on-terror prisoners currently held in Afghanistan as well as those who may be picked up in the future.”

Newsweek has more. See also the analysis at Opinio Juris.

A separate interagency task force is examining the cases of the 229 detainees who remain at Guantanamo Bay, and is on track to complete its work by October. Officials said more than half those cases have been reviewed, with recommendations to transfer more than 50 detainees home or to third countries, and to prosecute others. The WSJ describes the work of State Department diplomat Daniel Fried who is trying “to find places for some 40 detainees whose dossiers he lugs from country to country”.


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