The Pentagon plans to deliver notices to board-eligible detainees at Guantánamo this week, according to one attorney who was contacted by the Defense Department and asked if he would participate in the process. The attorney spoke to the Miami Herald on condition he not be identified in this article.
Breasseale would not say whether reporters will be allowed to watch, or photograph, the hearings even if the detainee desires media coverage.
Pentagon officials also would not discuss specific cases. But, based on the categories, the 71 men whose files will be reviewed include five members of the Taliban whose release is sought as part of an Afghanistan peace accord.
The so-called Taliban elders are indefinite detainees at Guantánamo along with seven other Afghans, 26 Yemenis, three Saudis, two Kuwaitis, two Libyans, a Kenyan, a Moroccan and a Somali.
Other captives who currently could argue for release as once-considered candidates for trial, include:
• A 42-year-old, one-eyed prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah who was one of the CIAs first war on terror prisoners. Hes Palestinian Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein whom agents captured critically wounded in Pakistan, held naked in a dog cage and waterboarded 83 times to find out what he knew about al-Qaida before delivering him to Guantánamo in 2006.
• An Indonesian man named Riduan Isomuddin, 49, better known Hambali, whom the CIA profiled a decade ago as a senior leader of Southeast Asias Jemaah Islamiya, the Islamic Group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people. Hambali was captured in Thailand in 2003 but has never been charged with a crime.
• Saudi Mohammed al Qahtani, 37,who was considered at one time for prosecution as the wannabe 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot. Agents subjected him to such cruel interrogation at Guantánamo that a senior Pentagon lawyer in the Bush years concluded that the U.S. tortured him, and forbade his inclusion in the 9/11 death-penalty tribunal.
Of Guantánamos 166 captives, six detainees are awaiting death-penalty trials and three are convicted of war crimes. So they dont get parole hearings.
Another 86 are theoretically cleared for release, and also ineligible for the reviews. But they have no release date because the Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to issue waivers to overcome Congressional restrictions on releases.
So the flurry of emails over the weekend produced some skepticism among Guantánamo defense attorneys.
For the Periodic Review Boards to be taken seriously, the U.S. government should begin releasing the men that were cleared for release by the previous interagency entity years ago, said Ramzi Kassem, law professor at the City University of New York and attorney for several Guantánamo prisoners.
The panels follow the work of a federal task force President Barack Obama ordered in 2009 to sift through Guantánamo detainee files.
That process produced a list of 48 indefinite detainees in January 2010. But two of those men have since died one had a heart attack, according to the prison, and the other was found hanging by a bed sheet in a communal prisons recreation yard in what the military said was a suicide.
So now there are 46 indefinite detainees. Although thats the same number of hunger strikers designated for forced-feedings on Sunday, a Miami Herald project to identify those being tube-fed at Guantánamo has revealed a cross-section of captives, including those cleared for release.