Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has issued an order establishing administrative review procedures for enemy combatants captured in the Afghan theater and detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The new procedures will provide an annual review of each enemy combatant. The order is effective immediately.
Under this order, each enemy combatant will have a formal opportunity to appear in person before a board of three military officers and explain why he believes that he should be released. He will be provided a military officer to assist him in his appearance. In addition, the review board will accept written information from the family and national government of the enemy combatant. Based on all of this information, as well as submissions by other U.S. government agencies, the board will assess the current threat posed by the detainee, then recommend to a high-level Defense of Department official whether the enemy combatant should remain in detention. The DoD official, who will be selected by the secretary of defense, then will decide whether the enemy combatant should remain in detention.
The release of enemy combatants prior to the end of a war is a significant departure from past U.S. wartime practices. Enemy combatants are detained for a very practical reason: to prevent them from returning to the fight. Thats why the law of war permits their detention until the end of an armed conflict. Although the global war on terror is real and ongoing, DoD has decided as a matter of policy to institute these review procedures. This process will assist DoD in fulfilling its commitment to ensure that no one is detained any longer than is warranted.
The administrative review procedures can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2004/d20040518gtmoreview.pdf.