On Friday, the Periodic Review Board (PRB) announced it was recommending the transfer from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a detainee who is among several the government has claimed was the 20th hijacker. He is deemed too impaired to pose a future threat, following two months of brutal interrogation in late 2002 and early 2003 at Camp X-Ray and a traumatic brain injury he suffered as a child.
This PRB recommendation follows a series of other clearances since Biden took office. On January 11, the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees in the war on terror to Guantanamo, the administration announced it was clearing five detainees for transfer. And last September, the administration cleared three more transfers, a total now of nine in the current administration. As of this writing, 39 remain in detention, a far cry from the nearly 700 housed in the prison at its apex.
Is the administration finally trying to shut down the prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station (GTMO), as Biden, and before him, Obama, had repeatedly pledged to do? Some perspective is in order… .
Finkelstein is the founder and academic director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), a non-partisan interdisciplinary institute affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). She is a distinguished research fellow at APPC and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). Her current research addresses national security law and policy and democratic governance with a focus on related ethical and rule of law issues.
Finkelstein also discussed her article with Michael Smerconish L’87 on his SiriusXM show.