Senate Defeats Amendment to Defense Authorization Bill Restricting Transfer of GTMO Detainees

Yesterday the Senate narrowly defeated an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would have restricted the transfer of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center detainees by a 43-55 vote. The amendment, from Republicans Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) would have made it nearly impossible to transfer detainees from the facility to the U.S. or other foreign countries, making it certain that the detention center (originally intended to be temporary) will not be closing in the near future, despite President Obama’s repeated promises to the contrary.

Only time will tell whether the House adds an identical (or potentially worse) amendment when they get the opportunity to address the Defense Authorization Bill, but for now, the amendment essentially blocking the shutdown of GTMO has been defeated.

Secret Periodic Review Board Hearings Limit Transparency at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

This week, the Pentagon began notifying would-be observers of the first Guantanamo Periodic Review Board hearing, scheduled for November 20th, that the hearing (and all subsequent hearings) will be held in secret. The announcement highlights the challenges government officials face as they try to balance their commitment to transparency with the perceived national security risks associated with public hearings. Given the amount of classified information addressed in these hearings, it is impossible for the government to ever achieve true transparency throughout this process, leaving the public to question whether our country’s purported commitment to justice is being upheld at Guantanamo. Continue reading

Posner Argues Foreigners Have No Right to Privacy From U.S. Surveillance

Prominent legal scholar Eric Posner argued on Slate this past week that foreigners should have no right to privacy from NSA surveillance. In an article entitled “Keep Spying on Foreigners, NSA”, Posner writes “They have no right to privacy from US surveillance- and they shouldn’t.” He argues that there will never be an international digital right to privacy (as Germany has proposed), because it “makes no sense.”  Continue reading

Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations: An Effective National Security Tool, or Symbolic Action?

The United States formally designated the Nigerian militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations as of this past Wednesday, November 13th, bringing the total number of Foreign Terrorist Organizations officially recognized by the State Department to 53. While it is undisputed that Boko Haram and Ansaru both have lengthy records of engaging in terrorist activities, making the designation an appropriate classification of their activities, this designation is largely symbolic and will have little effect on the group’s activities and power. Continue reading

Drone Strikes Remain in CIA Territory

Six months after the White House announced that drone strikes would move from the CIA’s authority to the DoD, new reports state that the transfer will not be happening any time in the near future.  President Obama originally claimed that the transfer was meant to increase transparency and open up debate in regard to the controversial drone strikes across the Middle East.  While many will undoubtedly criticize the delay, the situation may not be as bad as it appears on its face.  In fact, it may be that keeping drone strike capabilities in the hands of the CIA will actually be a positive in the long run. Continue reading

Outrage Fatigue: The Danger of Getting Used to GTMO

Seton Hall University School of Law Professor and noted expert in national security issues Jonathan Hafetz was published yesterday in the World Politics Review. His article, Outrage Fatigue: The Danger of Getting Used to GTMO, discusses the status of GTMO throughout Obama’s tenure as President.  Continue reading

Re-visiting Mefloquine Use at Guantanamo: A Guest Post by Dr. Remington Nevin

Dr. Remington Nevin is a consulting physician epidemiologist board certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Nevin specializes in the evaluation and diagnosis of adverse reactions to antimalarial medications, particularly the neurotoxic quinoline derivative mefloquine. A long-time advisor to the Center for Policy & Research, he advised us on our report exploring the government’s use of mefloquine at Guantanamo, Drug Abuse: An Exploration of the Government’s Use of Mefloquine at Guantanamo. Continue reading