CIA to End Undercover Vaccination Programs

Over a year after public health officials wrote to President Obama in anger that the United States had been using “sham vaccination campaign[s]” as a front for espionage, a White House official has pledged that the CIA will no longer use immunization programs as cover for spying operations. Continue reading

House Committee Earmarks $69 Million for New Secret Prison at Guantanamo

The House Armed Services Committee (“HASC”) released its spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Bill,  this past week, reserving a total of $93 million for new construction at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, including $69 million for a new “high-value detainee complex.” Further, the bill would prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States for further detention or trial. While the fate of the bill is still uncertain, as it ultimately needs to gain approval from Congress, its very existence indicates that, as many of us have speculated, Guantanamo will not be closing any time soon. Continue reading

Abu Ghraib Closed by Iraqi Government

Earlier today, the Iraqi government announced that it has shut down the Abu Ghraib prison. According to Iraqi officials, the closure is due to growing concerns that Sunni insurgents in the area may have the capabilities to launch an attack against the prison, possibly freeing some of the roughly 2,400 prisoners. Those prisoners have now been moved to more secure locations in central and northern Iraq. It is unclear at this point whether Abu Ghraib will reopen if the Iraqi government is able to secure the area. Continue reading

Al Darbi Pleads Guilty

Alexandra Kutner is currently at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on behalf of the Center for Policy and Research 

Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi spoke in both English and Arabic as he answered judge Air Force Col. Mark L. Allred’s questioning on Thursday. Clutching his prayer beads, al Darbi, a Saudi Arabian national, pled guilty to having joined with other members of al Qaeda in planning and preparing attacks against civilian oil tankers in Southwest Asian Waters. While al Darbi entered Court Room 1 knowing he was going to plead guilty to the charges, he listened attentively to each question and the detailing of every element of his charges. Despite being captured during the actual attack of the MV Limburg, al Darbi acknowledged today that he was complicit in the plot that lead to the explosion. Al Darbi will likely spend between 9 and 15 additional years in prison, possibly in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

There has been speculation that Al Darbi will testify against Nashiri, accused of plotting the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, in his upcoming trial, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied at this time.  Al Darbi is the sixth detainee to plead guilty at the military commissions and the first Saudi convicted of terror charges.

Alexandra Kutner, Research Fellow
Center for Policy and Research

Death Penalty Sought for Boston Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev

Yesterday afternoon, prosecutors in the Boston Marathon bombing case announced that Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized them to seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two suspects believed to have carried out the bombing. Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan and second suspect was killed by police during a fire fight shortly after the bombing. Continue reading

Colleen “Jihad Jane” LaRose Sentenced

Colleen LaRose, better known as “Jihad Jane,” was sentenced to ten years in federal prison last week. LaRose was convicted on multiple terrorism-related counts, most notably for her role in plotting the murder of a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a dog in a political cartoon. Prosecutors allegedly sought a more serious sentence but U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker lightened LaRose’s punishment based in part on her renouncement of her crimes. Continue reading

Penny Lane: Are Guantanamo Detainees Really the “Worst of the Worst?”

In 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that GTMO was populated by the “worst of the worst,” citing GTMO detainees as some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. The Center for Policy and Research, however, published a report in March 2011, citing substantial evidence regarding the true recidivist rates of GTMO detainees pointing to the fact that these men were not nearly as dangerous as the U.S. originally claimed. 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

Alleged al Qaeda Member Extradited to the United States

The FBI issued a press release Thursday morning announcing that Nizar Trabelsi, a 43 year-old Tunisian and alleged member of al Qaeda, has been extradited to the United States from Belgium. After twelve years in custody, Trabelsi faces charges stemming from a plot to bomb an overseas NATO base and has been held in Washington D.C. since his arrival in the country.

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Lietzau Condemns Guantanamo & Detainee Status

A few days ago, a story came out in which William Lietzau, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Detainee Affairs and point-man on Guantanamo Bay, admitted that he would argue against building Guantanamo.  This came following Lietzau’s announcement that he would be leaving his post to continue his career in the private sector.  He also gave President Obama a pointer on how to close Guantanamo; announce that the so-called war against al-Qaeda has come to an end.  Lietzau, who was key in getting Guantanamo built in the first place, was quoted as saying, “[a]rguably, if the war aim of diminishing Al Qaeda’s ability to mount a certain level of attack has been achieved, we could declare an end to hostilities and return to dealing with the threat as a law enforcement matter.” Continue reading