With Obama pledging in the latest State of the Union address to finally shutter the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay — something he's been promising to do since his 2008 election campaign — it's worth revisiting the people who remain imprisoned there, more than a decade after the GW Bush administration declared its War on Terror.
There are 155 men in Guantanamo. 77 have been cleared for transfer but there is no country to which they can be sent. 45 men are in "indefinite detention" — unable to be prosecuted, often because of the brutal torture inflicted on them by Guantanamo's jailers, but unable to be released because the US government considers them to be a threat. 31 more are awaiting prosecution.
This month, the American Psychology Association dropped all proceedings against a member who designed, oversaw, and participated in the torture at Guantanamo. They had previously denied a request to censure other members who participated in torture.
The protocol designed by John Leso, the doctor that the APA will not censure, involved intravenously hydrating a victim until he urinated on himself; sleep deprivation; forcing the victim to bark like a dog; keeping the victim naked and subjecting him to extreme cold; spinning the victim in a swiveling chair to disorient him; putting the victim into stress positions; depriving the victim of mattresses and other bedding; keeping the victim in isolation from all human contact; and more.
The other men are unlikely to be prosecuted. In 2002 officials claimed that one of them, Abu Zubaydah, was a key figure in the al-Qaeda network.
He was held in a secret CIA facility. Officials created a programme of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" for him, as John Rizzo, a former CIA lawyer, wrote. Zubaydah is now prisoner 10016 at Camp 7, a mini-Supermax that is blocked off from the world.
Not even lawyers are allowed to visit. He is brought to a 20ft by 10ft (about 6m by 3m) wooden box, with his hands then chained to a bolt on the floor, for meetings. He has never been charged with a crime.
"He never will be," says his lawyer Joseph Margulies. Years ago officials misjudged him, he says, and consequently subjected him to the harsh programme. Now, he says, they are in a difficult position.
Who, what, why: Who is still at Guantanamo? [Tara McKelvey/BBC]
(Image: US Navy/Wikimedia Commons: Public domain)