GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba - The Obama administration Monday lifted a veil of secrecy surrounding the status of the detainees at Guantanamo, for the first time publicly naming the four dozen captives it defined as indefinite detainees - men too dangerous to transfer but who cannot be tried in a court of law.
The names had been a closely held secret since a multi-agency task force sifted through the files of the Guantanamo detainees in 2009 trying to achieve President Obama's executive order to close the detention center.
In January 2010, the task force revealed that it classified 48 Guantanamo captives as dangerous but ineligible for trial because of a lack of evidence, or because the evidence was too tainted.
They became so-called "indefinite detainees," a form of war prisoner held under Congress' 2001 "Authorization for Use of Military Force."
The Defense Department released the list to The Miami Herald, which, with the assistance of Yale Law School students, had sued for it in federal court in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon also sent the list to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Monday, a Defense Department official said.
According to the list, the men designated for indefinite detention are 26 Yemenis, 12 Afghans, 3 Saudis, 2 Kuwaitis, 2 Libyans, a Kenyan, a Moroccan and a Somali.
Amnesty International's Zeke Johnson called "fundamentally flawed" the classification of captives as indefinite detainees.
"Under international human-rights law," he said, "all of the detainees should either be charged and fairly tried in federal court or released."
Human Rights First's Dixon Osburn hailed release of the list: "It is fundamental to democracy that the public know the identities of the people our nation is depriving of liberty and why they are being detained."
Some of the men on the list are among the prisoners currently on a hunger strike and being force-fed at the prison. One is Yemeni Abdal Malik al Wahab, about 43, who in March, according to his lawyer David Remes, vowed to fast until he got out of the prison "either dead or alive."
Two men on the list are deceased. Both Afghans, one committed suicide with a bedsheet in a recreation yard and the other died of a heart attack. So now the 166 captives at Guantanamo actually include 46 indefinite detainees.
Two former CIA captives, held apart from the majority of Guantanamo's prisoners as "high-value detainees" are also listed as indefinite detainees: Mohammed Rahim, an Afghan man, and Somali Hassan Guleed.
All the other ex-CIA captives were designated for trial. Those include accused al-Qaida kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 48, and four alleged fellow conspirators in the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, who were in pretrial hearings at the war court this week.
Also designated for trial was Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 48, accused in the 2000 USS Cole attack that killed 17 American sailors.
On StarNet: For the full list of "indefinite detainees," go to azstarnet.com/list