The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Homeland Security

Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense.
News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of the Navy Gordon England
Friday, July 9, 2004 11:00 a.m. EDT

Secretary of the Navy England Briefing on Combatant Status Review Tribunal

SEC. ENGLAND: Good morning. Good morning. How is everybody this morning?

Let's see, the last time I was here I guess was a week or two ago, and when I was here a week or two ago we were talking about the annual review process for detainees. So a different subject today. And again, if we haven't met, Gordon England, secretary of the Navy. But I'm not here as the secretary of the Navy; I'm here as the senior executive on these special assignments, and the one today is this Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

So as you know, the order was signed by a day-and-a-half ago, Wednesday evening, and so we've been at this for about a day and a half. So today I will give you a status of where we are in this review process. I know you will have a lot of questions. I'm not going to have all the answers. So this is really a status review, give you an update of where we are, what our approach is, how we will be handling this. Obviously, feel free to ask all the questions. I'll try to answer everything I can. But recognize we're not at the endgame yet.

So yesterday I did go to Guantanamo to start this process; went down, met with the personnel familiar with the facilities to try to understand the difficulties in what we need to do to accomplish this mission. So I have that background. Yesterday we identified some of the way forward, and I'll briefly discuss that with you.

First off, our requirement in the order is to notify within 10 days all the detainees of three of their rights. They have the opportunity to contest their designation as an enemy combatant. They also have an opportunity to consult with a personal representative, and they'll be notified of that opportunity. And they also have the right to seek a writ of habeas corpus, and they'll be notified of that right. So we have three notifications -- one notification, but three topics -- and the order says accomplish this within 10 days.

So where we are now is we are preparing the notification that will be given to each of the detainees, and our plan is to start notifying detainees on Monday. So we're in the process of preparing the paperwork today, so Monday we can start physically notifying the detainees. Now to some extent this is a little bit of a daunting task because they're from 40 countries, there's 17 languages and there's 19 dialects, and not all of the detainees read. So we will have this in their language so they can read their rights, but if they can't read we will also have someone orally describe this for them. And our plan is to have this completed by next Thursday. So within the 10 days -- within 10 days, we will have this accomplished.

So our plan now for that first part, the process is under way and we're starting the notifications. We'll be physically notifying people on Monday. We'll be doing that all next week. And hopefully we will have all that completed next Thursday. That's our plan. So that's the first step of the order.

Then my responsibility is to name a convening authority. So I have already named the convening authority. The convening authority will be Rear Admiral James McGarrah. And that's M-c-G-a-r-r-a-h. He's a rear admiral. He is a reservist. And he will be heading up our office, the office I talked to the last time, the ORDEC (ph) office, the office that deals with the annual review process. He will be the officer heading that office, replacing Admiral Moore, who will be retiring. So we've had Admiral Moore working with us here the last several months. He will be retiring, so Rear Admiral James McGarrah will be the convening authority.

Then he in turn will be naming people next week; naming people for the tribunal, naming people for the recorder, naming the personal representatives. So those individuals will be named beginning early next week.

And for those individuals, we will also have a training program. It won't be elaborate, but obviously we need each of those individuals to understand their responsibilities, the way this will be implemented, and our expectations in terms of performance, et cetera.

So this process will be very similar in some ways to the ARB (ph). That is, it will be a fair process; we'll look at all the data dealing with their classification as an enemy combatant; it will be a neutral board. So it will be a thoughtful exercise to make sure it is fair. We will look at all the data available regarding their classification. And the standard, again, will be reasonableness. It will be what would a reasonable person conclude. That decision will be made by the tribunal. So again, three people in a tribunal, they will make that decision.

That decision will then go to the convening authority. The convening authority, Admiral McGarrah, will then be able to accept the decision or send it back for further deliberations by the tribunal.

My expectation is that the tribunals will be started, the physical tribunals, that is, hearing cases of detainees, it will be in a matter of a couple weeks. It's not going to be months, it will be weeks. But we do have to have the personal representative meet with the detainee, be able to provide data to the detainee. Detainee has the right to appear. Detainee has the right reasonably to bring witnesses or affidavits. Also, there could be some time lag; on the other hand, I expect some cases could be quicker.

So our plan is, we will stand up three boards to run concurrently, three boards a day. We hope to have four detainees each board, each day. So that means if we do this six days a week, we can have 72 individuals, detainees, covered in a week. Frankly, I believe that will be the most optimistic projection, again, because there's logistics involved. But if we do that, it says we can do it in a couple months. I expect, because, at least in some cases, physically getting -- if there's witnesses you have to bring in or you have to get affidavits, then of course it can extend the time. But I would expect 90 to 120 days, we should have almost all the detainees through this process.

So we will do this as quickly as we can, and that's -- an underlying principle is to do it quickly. Speed is of the essence. But the first principle is to do this correctly. That is, do it fairly, make sure we have the right standards, make sure it's well documented, but also do it as quickly as we can.

So I will -- our hope and expectation -- recognize we have not had the first tribunal. We haven't stood this up yet. So part of this is still our planning. But our expectation is 90 to 100 days should be the outside, in my view, for having the hearing for all of the detainees that'll be appearing for these hearings.

The process we're using will be the Army Regulation 190-8, which is the regulation referred to by the Supreme Court. But it will be enhanced. We will go beyond that, because we will have a personal representative for the detainee if the detainee so chooses. Also, of course, the detainee does not have to appear before the tribunal. So that's a voluntary -- detainee can appear before the tribunal, can also have a personal representative to work with him before the tribunal.

So that's an enhancement to 190-8, and that's -- all will be part of the plan.

Now the last time I met with you and I talked to you about the annual review plan, we had detail implementations, which we -- we gave everyone in the press a copy, we had also provided to the Congress, we provided to the NGOs. We did interagency, and we were very open and transparent with the implementation -- we will do the same for the tribunals. We're working to put those detail implementation plans together right now. Early next week we should have those, at least the first version in terms of a final signed-off version, ready to go.

But again, it will be like the prior procedures we put together; that is, we will continue to enhance them as we learn. It's sort of hard to believe on day one, having never had a hearing, that we know exactly how this will proceed. So we will obviously continue to modify as we go.

We will also -- next week the convening authority will be identifying all the individuals.

So that's where we are today. I mean, the process is now under way. It gives you some feel for the timeline of what we're trying to accomplish. And we are trying to do this as quickly as possible.

Now, regarding the annual reviews. These are two separate processes. One is a tribunal, one is the annual review. First we have the tribunals to ascertain, giving the detainee the right to contest if they are an enemy combatant. That goes first. So as we accomplish some of those tribunals, we will then be able to go into the annual review process. So at some point we will have both of these processes going on concurrently, right, in parallel, because we want to accomplish both of these tasks as soon as we can. So we're still planning how all that works, but our expectation is we'll be doing both of these together. And all of this, we're talking about weeks, not months. That's where we are today.

Yes, sir?

Q If a person is a determined not to be an enemy combatant, he is immediately and automatically released, returned?

SEC. ENGLAND: That's my understanding, yes. We will then notify the Department of State. And my understanding, yes, if they're a non- enemy combatant they are released to their home country.

Q Sir, will the tribunal hearings be open to the public, press and human rights observers? And will the names and nationalities of detainees be made public?

SEC. ENGLAND: Okay, names and nationalities, I would expect not, just because the detainees have some rights also, and they have families in their home countries. So my judgment would be not to release their name and their home country because I think that's in their interest not to. So their right, my judgment is, I like to protect that. There may be some input as time goes on to modify that view. So I expect we would not release that.

Secondly, will they be open? We will make them as open and transparent as we can. I say that because the data -- I expect the data in most of the files is highly classified data. So yes, transparent, as open as we can, but I also don't want it to be trivial. I mean, have someone there and then immediately close it because of classified data obviously wouldn't be valuable for anyone. So to the extent we can make this meaningful and open and transparent -- like I said, we'll provide everyone with all the particulars of how we're doing this -- we're going to try to do it. I just don't know how it works out. We may have to just try -- you know, look at a few cases and see how it works. But I'd like it to be as open as we can.

Q Can I just follow up? If you've made a decision that the name and nationalities of the people aren't going to be released, I don't see how you could possibly have an open hearing with the press covering it. How would somebody write a story about a hearing that they can't even mention the name and nationality of the person -- the subject of the hearing?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, I would -- I mean, I hope the press would be responsible enough -- not to release somebody's name and nationality, particularly if it was going to jeopardize someone back in our own country. I mean, I think you could cover it without knowing the specific name. But again, I mean, that's something we'd have to discuss, I guess, with the press.

I mean, we do have to work it out. I don't know all the answers. I've said earlier I don't have all the answers. Again, my inclination is make it open. I'd like to make this as open as we can. But we do have to work out the particulars, and at least my view is we have to consider the detainee himself. Now maybe that's not an issue. Maybe they've been published. I'm not sure. But I don't believe so, and therefore I don't think we would like -- we would want to jeopardize that person's security or his family's security or just his privacy rights. But I expect we could work something like that with the press. It wouldn't necessarily have to publish a person's name.

Yeah, back there.

Q Would the -- the detainees who have retained lawyers, would they be able to have those lawyers represent them?

SEC. ENGLAND: Pardon me? Could you speak up?

Q Well, the detainees who have already retained lawyers, will they be able to have those civilian lawyers represent them at the combat status review hearing?

SEC. ENGLAND: No, they would not. They'll have a personal representative, and the personal representative will represent them and assist them, make sure that they understand the case unclassified against them so they can respond. But again, this is -- it's in response to 190-8, so this is a military process. And it goes beyond 190-8 in that they will have a personal representative. But you don't have -- you don't have legal representatives in any of the proceedings of 190-8 because it is a military issue.


Q What about the detainees that don't have legal representation right now? What's going to be done to try to facilitate that and let them do the links that they want to make?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, we'll work -- we will work to facilitate this. And I will tell you, I don't know the answers to this yet.

One of the requirements is to notify them of their right of habeas corpus; so they do have legal representation in another venue, if they elect to do that. I'm not sure how we do this. First of all, it's a difficult environment. We're in Guantanamo. We don't have commercial air traffic; we don't have hotels; we don't have motels; we don't have rental cars. I mean, it's not like -- it's not an environment like going to a city, et cetera.

I expect we will have to work out something with groups of lawyers or groups of detainees -- don't have the answer. Look, we will work through that and that was part of going down to Guantanamo yesterday. They'll at least start those discussions of how we might handle that.

As soon as -- here's what I will do. I'll meet with you regularly on this as we work through the issues -- day and a half; don't know the answer yet. It's a complex issue. But we do have to work through it.

Q Mr. Secretary, if I could follow up.


Q Are you going to give this the same sort of fast-track that you're giving the other portion of the process, the military portion of the process?

SEC. ENGLAND: Yes, we're going to do it all as quickly as we can. Now, look -- but I don't control the habeas process as much as I control the tribunal process. Tribunal process, obviously, we can start naming people and doing it quickly. Habeas is a little more complicated, goes into legal process. But we're going to work just as hard as we can and try to make this work out for everybody.

Move around.

Q Thanks. About the personal representatives: How many personal representatives do you intend to appoint and how many clients will they have? And will there be an assumption of confidentiality?

SEC. ENGLAND: We'll have whatever number we need, so I don't know what that number is. We'll get into this process; depends on the complexity of these cases. And remember, this is a determination -- are you an enemy combatant? I would expect some are very clear. I mean, some people were physically shot engaging in combat against the United States. I expect some are clear; some may be more complex. So however many we need; I don't know what that is yet.

Q Okay --

SEC. ENGLAND: But we will staff it accordingly. I mean, we'll have the number.

Now confidentiality. There will not be a confidentiality agreement. This is to some extent just the opposite; that is this is a fact-based analysis. We want all the facts to come forward. So we don't want client privilege where some data is not discussed. I mean, this is to bring all the data forward so we can make the best fact- based decision we can regarding their status as an enemy combatant.

Q There were reports today that the Department of Defense has put together plans to keep some detainees at Gitmo off the books for intelligence reasons. Is that true? And if so, why?

SEC. ENGLAND: Don't know anything about it. Asking the wrong person.


Q How do you respond to critics who say this combatant status review is not in the spirit of the Supreme Court's decision?

SEC. ENGLAND: Oh look, I'm not a lawyer. But my understanding, it is in the spirit. I mean, this is a determination, I mean, this determination in all combat is typically, you know, made on the field of the combat, I mean it is, did someone engage in combat against the United States? So this is a military decision. The Supreme Court referred to 190-8. So we will fully comply with 190-8 and enhance 190-8 because we will provide a personal representative.

Now, I will tell you, people have asked: Well, why do we even provide a personal representative? Why don't we just stay with 190-8? Look, this is an unusual circumstance. I mean, typically, you engage in combat against a nation or nations, and you have people from a country or countries. But in this case we have people from 40 countries, 17 languages, 19 dialects. So we feel that we need to have someone work with the detainee to better understand this situation and how to respond. So this is unique. And this is in fairness and in equity to make sure that this process is as fair as we can make it for the detainees. So we're stepping beyond, I think, all previous situations in dealing with these detainees.

Let me get somebody I haven't talked to.

Okay, yeah?

Q Just to follow up on Scott's question. Are you saying that all the detainees at Guantanamo are currently under the control of the Department of Defense and registered and accounted for?

SEC. ENGLAND: Again, I don't know. I'm not -- you're asking the wrong person. I'm doing the process for the people --

Q If you know that they're all going to appear before a tribunal, whether it's combatant status review or an annual, then you're saying that they are all accounted for, all the detainees down at Guantanamo.

SEC. ENGLAND: Listen, all -- my expectation is all the detainees will come before either my tribunal or the annual review process.

Q Mr. Secretary, can I follow that? Are you saying you don't know whether all detainees at Gitmo are under DOD control?

SEC. ENGLAND: No, I'm just saying I don't know anything about the subject. I mean, a day and a half ago I was given an order to stand this up, and that's what I'm doing.

Q But if you know the answer to that -- I mean, are all detainees at Gitmo under Defense Department control, and do you know --

SEC. ENGLAND: I'm saying -- I'm trying to tell you I don't know. I only know that I'm going to stand up an order to have this review process. And you're asking me something I just don't know about.


Q Sir, about the personal representatives, are there specific qualifications that you'll be looking for in the officers and are there rank requirements? And what pool might these officers be pulled from?

SEC. ENGLAND: There are rank requirements. As I recall, personal representatives I believe need to be (rank of ) major. All our officers I believe are (rank of) major. Can someone help me? Is that right? Major, at least a major level, so -- or equivalent. And we'll draw them from all the services. So they'll come from all the services, at least a major.

We do have a questionnaire for everyone that we developed previously to make sure that people did not have any biases, that they had not -- that they comply with the order; that is, they were not part of previous detainee actions or, you know, in some way associated with detainees in the past, that they are indeed neutral. So we do have a process to make sure that all of the officers in all the positions are able to meet the qualifications of the order.

Q Mr. Secretary, some of the Guantanamo detainees already have legal representation. What steps are you making so those lawyers can go down to Guantanamo to meet with their clients? And will these conversations between the lawyers and their clients be confidential and unmonitored?

SEC. ENGLAND: You're ahead of me on this subject. Again, we're still working. I don't know the answer to how we handle all the legal issues because it's a complex issue. We're just not there yet. I mean, again, we've had a day and a half to work it. I can only tell you where we are. We will work through that, and I expect next week we'll have more definitive answers. But we just don't know.

Q Are you committed, though, to having these conversations between lawyers and their clients be confidential and unmonitored?

SEC. ENGLAND: I would say I haven't considered it. Even from a security point of view, when you say unmonitored, I mean, I -- I mean, this is a very hostile environment. So I would defer the answer until I really understand how we're going to do this. I mean, I believe it's a more complex issue than it would be in a normal setting. So I'd like to take the time and get a correct answer, and when we do we'll chat with you, okay? So give us time to work it.

Q Why -- and forgive this for being such a cynical question, but why should anyone believe that the tribunal outcomes are not a foregone conclusion? Presumably these people have been interrogated for the last two years. One hundred and forty people have been released from Guantanamo already who have been deemed to have no further intelligence value. So isn't the basic assumption of the military going into this that the people you're holding are being held rightfully?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, we --

Q So how could you guys, providing your own information, come up with any other conclusion?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, I mean, we're going to have an independent board. We are selecting people who have not been involved in this process at all, so it's a neutral party. And the decision will be reviewed by the staff of the Judge Advocate General to be sure that this was handled properly and appropriately. And the decision will go to the convening authority, who will, again, look at this, make sure it was done appropriately and handled correctly. And if it wasn't, it will go back to the tribunal.

So, I would have the opposite view; I would say we had to be absolutely certain that we do this fairly. Part of that is openness, if we can do that, to make sure that there's a lot of credibility in the system that we have implemented. But it's called out quite explicitly in the order. It's also called out in 190-8. And we will do that as completely, as accurately and as fairly as we can.

Q And how do you define "reasonably" calling witnesses? What's reasonable? Picking up someone in Afghanistan and bringing them there?

SEC. ENGLAND: No, I don't think that would be reasonable. I think in that case you would get affidavits. I think you have to look at this on every case. I mean, there may not (be) people around, you may not be able to find people. And it depends on what's the other data. I mean, it may be that you don't need a witness because the preponderance of the data is pretty obvious. Remember, this is only a classification; is someone an enemy combatant? So if the data is pretty clear, enemy combatant, then it would be unreasonable to go to great lengths to bring in witnesses just for the sake of bringing them in.

Q And -- I'm sorry -- just going back to my first question, can you envision any circumstances under which somebody that's there could be not considered an enemy combatant? Is it possible that someone who is there now could have been scooped up and have no worth, nothing to do with it, and you just haven't discovered that yet?

SEC. ENGLAND: I don't know. I mean, there's been screenings in the past, so I would expect those screenings were at least effective, because those screenings did release various people along the way. I don't know the answer to the question. Until you actually look at the data, and that's the purpose of the tribunals, we won't know. So I don't know. I haven't looked at the data. I'm putting the process in place and I want the process to be independent of anyone's files so that we have a fair process and we look at all the data.

Q Mr. Secretary, if a detainee doesn't like his personal representative, if they don't feel comfortable with them, can they ask for a different personal representative?

SEC. ENGLAND: I hadn't thought about it, but I would expect yes.

Q Who is appointing the tribunal? I mean, what is the authority that will appoint the tribunal --

SEC. ENGLAND: It's the convening authority, and that will be Admiral McGarrah. So he will do the selection of the people so we have a pool of officers. And they will all have completed questionnaires, so we do have a screening process to make sure that they're all qualified, that they have no prior biases in this regard. So we will have a screening process to make sure that we have a neutral board. And he will be doing that selection.

Q Will you share the screening process with us, including the questionnaires --

SEC. ENGLAND: I'm sorry, the what? Do what?

Q The screening process, including the questionnaires, will you share that with us?

SEC. ENGLAND: Probably not because it's personal data, and I don't think that would be --

Q Not their answers, will you just share the questions with us?

SEC. ENGLAND: Oh, yes, I don't have a problem with that. Well, I think we already have. We included that in the package we provided you all a couple of weeks ago. So you have all that data.

Q That wasn't for the Combatant Status Review Panel, that was for the --

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, we haven't finished the procedures, so I can't say it won't change. But it will be published as part of those new implementing procedures. So definitely they'll be there.

Q If you're ready to start the tribunal perhaps in a couple of weeks from now, does that mean you already have a sense of which detainees might go first? Because that doesn't give much time for a personal representative to either go over a case, or for the detainees to call witnesses and get statements.

SEC. ENGLAND: Well again, no, I don't have a sense of who's first. We haven't decided orders yet, and what the ordering is. I expect some detainees will decide not to appear. I don't know, but, you know, out of a large number, you would expect some won't. And so you may not have those delays. On the other hand, some detainees may want to go get witnesses, et cetera. I expect there'll be a wide range.

I can't tell you exactly when it starts. Again, we haven't had the first case yet. But we will try to stand these up as quickly as we can. And we will be through the notification, I hope, by next Thursday. We still have paperwork in process. But hope we can get that through, get the notifications complete, and as quickly as possible we will have people working, personal representatives working with detainees, and we will start working that process as quickly as we can.

I would hope -- I will tell you frankly, people tell me it will be a few weeks. I mean, I'd like it to be the following week, if we can do that. So, do it as quick as we can is what we're trying to do. But it will be weeks; it will not be months. I think that's the best way to characterize it.

Q Mr. Secretary, can we get a copy of the notification? Is it going to be a written notification or is it going to be an oral notification? And if it's oral --

SEC. ENGLAND: It will be written.

Q Okay.

SEC. ENGLAND: Yes, we will have copies available. Don't have them yet, however; still working on the notification. And of course, we will also have to do this -- they'll be translated into a lot of different languages, but we will give you the basic version, obviously.

Q If we want in Arabic, can we also get it in Arabic?

SEC. ENGLAND: (Chuckles.) I guess you can, but I, you know -- (chuckles) --

Q Can you tell me, what are the guidelines on witnesses?


Q What are the guidelines on witnesses? I mean, how many witnesses can a detainee call, and are there any limits on where they can call them from? You know, are you calling people out from anywhere?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, you have to be -- well, it has to be reasonable. So -- I mean, you can't just have this process going for years. That's not the objective. And it is also, remember, just the term and classification. So it may be very clear, the person's classification, with or without witnesses, frankly. And so, again, it's up to the tribunal, I think, to decide what's reasonable. It will be different in every case. I don't think there's sort of this one standard fits all. I think it will be different in every case. So try to be fair and equitable in every case and make that determination.

Q Mr. Secretary, how could a detainee who doesn't have legal representation go out and find witnesses? I mean, that almost implies that the United States will allow a detainee who is at Guantanamo to make free and unfettered calls to people --

SEC. ENGLAND: No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't. It doesn't.

Q How can they find --

SEC. ENGLAND: It doesn't imply that at all. All they have to do is name who they are and work through the country of origin. And I expect that's what we'll do, work through the country to try to locate the people. I mean, I expect --

Q So the personal representative will be working through the country?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, personal representative working through Department of State, some agency working with countries. I mean, we have to understand the process. I don't know who they would call yet. I expect it's different. They could be calling fellow -- you know, someone else that's there in Guantanamo. They could be calling family members. So I don't know who they'll call, but I'll have to wait and see who it is they might call. But you can certainly have someone make that contact.

By the way, they don't have to appear in person. You can also have an affidavit so a person can provide written input. So there's various ways to do this.

Q Mr. Secretary?


Q Suppose that, given the scenario, you know -- I'm a detainee. I've got a cousin, Bill, in Pakistan who can provide incontrovertible proof that, you know, I'm totally above board, not an enemy combatant. Number one, if the last time I saw my cousin Billy was in Pakistan, maybe now he's in Afghanistan. How do you track these people down? What are you going to do? How do you fast track that?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, maybe you don't. I mean, you may not be able to. It may not be reasonably possible to do it. So you have to look at the preponderance of the evidence and decide, gee, if -- let's just say he came in and gave that testimony. How would that stack up against all the other data? You're not going to be able to find all the people that people may call out. So you have to look at this in the totality of the data that's available. I mean, one thing you can do is just assume you got that input that, you know, he wasn't there and see what the data looks like in terms of the totality. But you're not going to be able to just bring in anybody from every -- from anywhere. You're not going to be able to find everybody. It may be difficult, time consuming, et cetera. But you do what's reasonably possible in each case.

You know, I mean, you can't hypothesize this. I've said we'll look at the case and make the determination, and that's why we have a tribunal.

Q Mr. Secretary?

SEC. ENGLAND: Yeah, in the back.

Q For the purposes of this classification, as you call it, what is the definition of "enemy combatant?"

SEC. ENGLAND: I think it's called out in the order what an enemy combatant is. And the fact is I brought it with me, so the -- there is a definition of an enemy combatant. If you look at the order, it says specifically --

Q Which order are you talking about?

Q The one --

SEC. ENGLAND: The order that establishes this whole tribunal. So again, you have copies of that, so if you just look at that, it has a whole paragraph says, "Here's what an enemy combatant is." But it's anyone who's directly or -- supporting actions against the United States. But it says it in detail right here, in the order.

Q Is the military going to change its screening procedures at all before people get taken to Guantanamo now, sort of doing a tribunal in the field to avoid all of this sort of after-the-fact review?

SEC. ENGLAND: Don't know. It's a good question. I mean, you would expect yes, but I don't know. I mean, I'm not working that aspect of it, but certainly a logical question.

Q Suppose somebody arrives at Guantanamo tomorrow. Will they have the same access to these procedures as somebody that's been there for a year and a half?

SEC. ENGLAND: My understanding is, everyone at Guantanamo will have access to these procedures.

Q Who's going to pay for the plane fare if in fact you do find witnesses? Because many people -- of these people come from countries where the average wage is a couple hundred dollars a month, and they barely cover their living expenses.

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, I would expect in most case you have an affidavit. Unless the witness is reasonably available, I would expect, you know, you'll get a written statement.

Q Would the affidavit be gotten by someone in the embassy -- the American embassy in that country?

SEC. ENGLAND: Again, again, look, I don't want to hypothesize. We have to wait for the cases, and we'll see as we go.

Q Do you have a budget for doing this? Because it seems like it could get fairly expensive.

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, again, I don't know this could be fairly expensive. (Chuckles.) It depends upon how many witnesses -- where they come from. But if they're not reasonably available, they can give an affidavit, and then you don't have to bring people in. So --

Q So you don't have a budget?

SEC. ENGLAND: No, I don't have a budget. But there will be a budget to handle all this within the SOUTHCOM folks who will be executing this. And I have a budget to do all the administration and oversight.

Q Will you tell us what that budget is? The budget that SOUTHCOM -- will they disclose how much they're budgeting for these particular -- to carry out these tribunals?

SEC. ENGLAND: I expect it's within the budget they have, and they'll make money available to do what we have to do to complete this task. So I have the -- pardon me. I have the authority to direct that they do what's necessary to support this activity. And they'll spend the funds necessary to complete this process.

Q But can the American people -- can we find out how much this process is costing?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, you probably will after the fact, because, again, I don't know how many witnesses you're going to have. I don't know where they come from. I don't have affidavits. So I don't know what this cost will be. I mean, what we're going to do is do the process right in accordance with the order. So we will execute it appropriately.

I don't believe you're going to have a lot of people traveling, frankly, around the world. I would expect in most cases you'll have affidavits and not physically locating people -- bring them to Guantanamo to determine the status question. There may be a case or two, or some like that. Most cases, I don't think, will require that kind of complexity.

Q How are you going to know if, say, the American embassy who is -- the person who is tasked to go find this person who is supposed to testify on behalf of the detainee, how do you know they even made a good-faith effort to find the detainee?

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, we will ask them --

Q I mean to find some witness.

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, we will ask them to do so, and I expect people will do their jobs.

Q Can I just follow up on your answer? You indicated that maybe on -- maybe on a couple of occasions you expect to have one of these witnesses actually brought before the tribunal.

SEC. ENGLAND: Well, I don't know how many. I was -- I wouldn't expect out of all these 500 or 600 people that you're going to have, you know, hundreds of cases. That wouldn't be my expectation.

Q I mean, you're basically not expecting -- you're expecting virtually no witnesses to be called before the tribunal by the detainees. You're expecting most of the evidence to be represented in the form of affidavits or not in any --

SEC. ENGLAND: Let me try one more time. We've been a day and a half at this. We haven't yet talked to one single detainee. We haven't notified them of their rights yet. So this is trying to get some feel in terms of how do we scope the effort. So I've tried to give you some idea how we scope the effort. You have to wait until we get further into this to understand exactly how this will unfold. I mean, it is a lot of conjecture at this point in terms of how this will unfold. I mean, that's where we are today.

I started this by saying we're not going to know all the answers today. You know, I felt like I wanted to give you -- you would like to have a status report of how we're starting the process. So we will keep you informed, and we will provide you the written paperwork as it becomes available, which will be starting to come available early next week. We'll provide that and we'll provide periodic briefings, and this will become clear as we understand the whole situation.

STAFF: Thank you.


Join the mailing list