Guantanamo Bay has entered headlines again as at least 42 inmates are participating in a hunger strike to protest their continued detention. But those 42 are only part of the ongoing story.
There are still 166 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Eighty-six of these individuals have been cleared for release.
Only six people being held at Guantanamo Bay are facing formal charges.
It has become brutally clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay will not be closing. In January, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, preserving Guantanamo Bay foreseeable future. Shortly thereafter, Obama closed the State Department Office tasked with finding suitable, lawful locations to transfer the Guantanamo detainees.
Of the 86 inmates cleared of charges, none will be released anytime soon. Obama administration officials have offered several reasons for continuing to hold cleared detainees:
- The Yemen problem. Many of these detainees are from Yemen, and in the wake of the "Underwear Plot" in late 2009, the Obama Administration issued an " executive branch moratorium" on repatriating detainees to this country until it could be sure they would not join Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
- Safety of the prisoners. Some fear being killed or tortured upon their return home and seek resettlement rather than repatriation under Article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture ; but resettling these detainees in another country is difficult task.
- Unstable home governments. The NDAA has made it virtually impossible for inmates to return home, stating detainees cannot return to a country where a "threat that is likely to substantially affect" the government's ability to "exercise control" over the repatriated individual may exist (Sec. 1028). This section of the law grants legitimacy to indefinitely holding any detainee, given the prevalence of Al-Qaeda affiliates and other insurgent groups in several nations.