LAST week, we learned that, only months into the job, the official in charge of the military courts system at Guantánamo Bay was stepping down, after judges ruled he had interfered in proceedings. The appointment of an interim replacement was the sixth change of leadership for the tribunals since 2003….
That’s not all. Besides the revolving door at the convening authority’s office, six military attorneys have served as chief prosecutor for these courts over the same period. (I was the third.)
Think about that for a moment. If a professional football team was on its seventh head coach and sixth quarterback in less than a dozen years, that team would almost certainly be a loser….
About 85 percent of the 779 men ever held at Guantánamo are no longer there. Most left during the Bush administration. While the number of transfers has been much smaller under the Obama administration, the pace accelerated in the latter part of 2014.
Of the 122 men detained, nearly half have been cleared for transfer by unanimous votes of military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic officials who determined that the detainees could not be prosecuted, posed no identifiable threat to the United States and did not need to remain in our custody. Nevertheless, 56 men cleared to leave still remain, at a cost of about $3 million a year per detainee.
As unfortunate as this waste of resources and damage to America’s reputation are, the greatest tragedy is the pain inflicted on the friends and families of the 9/11 and Cole victims. For them, justice has been endlessly delayed.
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