Three weeks after the first Obama era parole-board hearing at Guantánamo, a step toward realizing the White House goal of emptying the prison, the administration is still deciding what portions of a captive’s plea for freedom the public may see.
Representatives of six different government agencies heard Mahmud Mujahid address the panel by video-link between the remote base in Cuba for about 75 minutes on Nov. 20, according to participants.
Now, all six must sign off on what part of a transcript will be made public, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday.
“The transcript continues to work itself through the inter-agency process,” said Breasseale. “While I have no time line for release, I hope to do it soon,” he added.
The six different government agencies are the Director of National Intelligence, departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State as well as the Pentagon and, separately, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The inability to release a transcript in three weeks, even with the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle, is the latest sign of the snail-pace administration efforts in holding the parole boards. Obama ordered his administration to set them up in March 2011. The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged the White House to hold them, as part of the Geneva Conventions’ handling of war prisoners.
Pentagon officials have said they intend to let reporters see some aspects of the hearings for some of the prison’s so-called ‘forever prisoners’ — the captives who were designated for indefinite detention or possible trial by an Obama Task Force in January 2010. Mujahid’s went forward in secret because the military had not devised a special, segregated video link for reporters to watch the first one, according to administration officials.
While there are 162 captives at the prison camps in southeast Cuba, 82 of them have already been cleared for transfers to other nations, six are in pretrial proceedings and three are convicted of war crimes. That leaves 71 captives eligible for the parole-board process.
The next one is scheduled for Jan. 28.