The Department of Defense announced today the completion of the second round of annual administrative review boards (ARB) conducted for enemy combatants detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The ARB is a review process which provides an opportunity for the detainee to appear before and present information to a three-member board of military officers. The outcome, which is based primarily on current threat assessment and intelligence value of each detainee, can be to release, to transfer to the control of another country, or to continue to detain the detainee at Guantanamo for another year.
All hearings for the second round were conducted from Jan. 30, 2006, to Dec. 6, 2006, at Guantanamo Bay. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, the designated civilian official (DCO) for the ARB process, has now made final decisions on all 328 board recommendations consisting of 55 (17 percent) transfers and 273 continued detentions. Transfer decisions by the DCO lead to negotiations by the Department of Defense and the State Department to repatriate detainees to their home country.
More detainees have been released or transferred than remain in Guantanamo, underscoring the fact that the United States has put in place processes to assess each individual and make a determination about whether they may be released or transferred during the course of ongoing hostilities. This process is discretionary, administrative and is not required by the Geneva Convention or by U.S. or international law.
In 2006, 111 detainees were either released or transferred from Guantanamo resulting in a cumulative total of approximately 390 releases and transfers since 2002. The number of detainees currently at Guantanamo is approximately 385, of which more than 80 have been designated for release or transfer, pending discussions with other nations or pending resolution of litigation in U.S. courts.
All of the detainees remaining at Guantanamo are enemy combatants and represent a threat to the United States and our allies. Although individuals in the U.S. and in the international community have called for closing Guantanamo, no one has suggested a viable option to deal with these dangerous men. Guantanamo remains the most secure and efficient environment to process and contain these individuals. The ARB process represents an effective way for the U.S. Government to achieve a balance between the risk posed by these detained enemy fighters and the U.S. Government's desire to not hold these individuals any longer than necessary. The rigor of the ARB process helps mitigate the risk that a released/transferred detainee will return to the fight and the Global War on Terror.