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Homeland Security

13 February 2004

Special Review Panel Planned for Guantanamo Detainees

Defense Department report, February 13: Detainee procedures

The Defense Department plans to form a special administrative review panel to place the cases of individual detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under continual review, a department official says.

In addition to the already elaborate procedures currently in place to screen, categorize and process detainees captured in Afghanistan and Iraq, the new review panel will be an additional level of scrutiny for those who continue to be held in Guantanamo, says Paul Butler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee operations.

Butler briefed the media February 13 at the Pentagon, along with Major General Geoffrey Miller, commander of the Guantanamo Joint Task Force.

The review panel will meet often enough to ensure that each detainee's case is reviewed annually "to determine whether that detainee continues to pose a threat to the United States," Butler said.

"The detainee will have the opportunity to appear in person before that panel. The detainee's foreign government will have the opportunity to submit information on the detainee's behalf. And the panel will consider all of the information, including intelligence information gained on the detainee and the information presented by the detainee and the government, and to make an independent recommendation about whether the detainee should be held," Butler said.

It has not yet been decided, according to Butler, who will make appointments to the review panel or to whom the panel will make its recommendations, though most likely it will be to the secretary of defense. Nor is there yet a time frame for when the panel will begin its work, he said. Those details and others are under "active consideration," he said.

Butler said not all detainees will be held for long periods. Detainees are divided into three categories, he said: those potentially eligible for release; those eligible for transfer to their own government; and those who will remain in detention in Guantanamo.

"We're reviewing people to determine whether they're still a threat," Butler said. "And if they are determined to be a threat, then we will continue to hold them until such time as they're not a threat anymore."

Butler also said that the United States is "not interested in holding anyone for one more day than we have to. ... The panel is designed to ensure that there is continued process that addresses the concerns that we all share.... And if through our present procedures ... the detainee has not been released, these are additional procedures to make sure that ... even if the war ends in stages, that there's constant review of these detainees to make sure that nobody's there any longer than they have to be."

Asked whether the detainees, some of whom have been held for almost two years, still have any intelligence value to the United States, General Miller said, "We continue to get extraordinarily valuable intelligence from the detainees who are at Guantanamo.

"It's our responsibility to make an assessment and recommendation on the detainees' intelligence value and their risk," Miller said. "We do that every day and that process is ongoing. Some are getting very close for us to make a recommendation; others, who are enormously dangerous and have ... intelligence of enormous value, are still in this process."

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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