Detention Puts Terrorists Out of Action, DoD Official Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2006 The detention of hundreds of terrorist suspects at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is helping to keep Americans and other peace-loving peoples safe, a senior Defense Department official said here today.
"If released, many of them would return to the battlefield," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
The detainees held at Guantanamo, he said, have sworn to kill Americans and other perceived enemies of al Qaeda and radical Islam.
"They should not be back out on the street," Whitman said.
Nine detainees among Guantanamo's 500-prisoner population are charged with war crimes, he noted. Defense attorneys' legal actions have slowed the progress of the military commissions set up to try them, he added.
"But we continue to work through those legal challenges as they exist," Whitman said, "and to pursue justice through the military commission system."
Preliminary military commission hearings at Guantanamo involving two detainees charged with terrorism are set to start tomorrow.
Many Guantanamo detainees have been released since the facility was set up after U.S. and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U. S., Whitman said.
"But the population that remains there is a very dangerous population that, if released, could very well return to the battlefield," he said.
Twelve detainees who'd been released from Guantanamo had returned to the battlefield and had been re-captured by U.S. forces, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld noted during a June 1, 2005, Pentagon news conference.
The original terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo, called Camp X-Ray, was replaced in April 2002 by Camp Delta, which features more modern and comfortable amenities.
Authority to try terrorists captured during the global war against terrorism falls under President Bush's Military Order of Nov. 13, 2001, which directed the establishment of military commissions to provide full and fair trials of enemy combatants suspected of having committed war crimes against the United States, as recognized under international law.