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Vol. 75/No. 11      March 21, 2011

Guantánamo order a blow
to rights of workers
(front page)
The White House issued an executive order March 7 officially reversing a directive from the first days of the Barack Obama presidency to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and put a freeze on military trials of detainees. The administration also laid out its legal framework for keeping some prisoners locked up indefinitely without any form of due process.

Throughout his run for the presidency, Obama argued that the Guantánamo prison camp needed to be closed. As one of his first acts as president Obama issued an order vowing to shutter the facility within one year.

The latest order not only keeps Guantánamo open and resumes military trials, but acknowledges that the effort by the administration to try some detainees in civilian court is for now dead in the water. The precedents set through such trials—with guilty verdicts and executions predicted by the administration before any evidence is presented—would have further undermined rights of the accused and strengthened the hand of the capitalist state against working people.

About 80 of the 170 men being held in Guantánamo will face military tribunals on various “terrorism” charges. Among the rest are some who have already been cleared for release but no country, including the United States, has agreed to take them. Others include a number of Yemeni prisoners that Washington refuses to send back home following a thwarted terrorist attack on a U.S. flight in 2009 by a Nigerian man who allegedly trained in Yemen; and at least 48 prisoners that the government plans to hold indefinitely without any form of due process because the threat of their release is supposedly too great.

Among the first prisoners likely to appear in front of a military commission is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000. Before being brought to Guantánamo in 2006 Nashiri was tortured at secret CIA prisons in Thailand and Poland, according to lawyers seeking to defend him.

A centerpiece of President Obama’s latest executive order is the provision to periodically review the status of detainees held at the Guantánamo prison. This provision is especially designed to dampen criticism of the indefinite detentions of prisoners whom the administration does not plan to put on trial because it has no evidence against them, or because it doesn’t want to divulge how the charges against the prisoners were put together.

But event if one of the reviews determines that a prisoner should be released, there is no requirement that he actually be freed.  
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