Obama’s team faces disorganised Guantanamo case files: Report

January 25th, 2009 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 25 (DPA) President Barack Obama’s orders to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by this year’s end face several hurdles, including the lack of comprehensive case files on many of the 245 terrorism suspects, the Washington Post reported Saturday online.The article, which quoted unnamed senior administration officials and former military prosecutors, said that Obama officials have found that information about the prisoners was “scattered throughout the executive branch.”

The Post quoted a court filing by Darrel Vandeveld, a former military prosecutor at Guantanamo who asked to be relieved of his duties, as saying evidence was “strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labelled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks.”

A Pentagon spokesman told the Post that it believed individual case files were “comprehensive and sufficiently organised”.

Several former Bush administration officials confirmed to the Post that the files were incomplete and that various agencies, including the CIA, had information about different cases which was only reluctantly shared.

On Thursday, Obama ordered the facility at the naval base on Cuba closed by year’s end, and an end to harsh interrogation techniques and torture.

It’s not clear what will happen to the prisoners, most of whom have been held for years without charges or trial.

The prospect of closing Guantanamo has triggered a debate in the US about whether the government possesses enough evidence to prosecute trials in US courts and about which states and prisons in the US could or would handle the influx until trials are held.

Obama has ordered the establishment of a task force to review detainee policy to include Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the director of the CIA, the secretary of homeland security and military leaders who are to examine each case and determine which can be transferred or released to their home governments or third countries.

Others could be prosecuted or fall into another category of detainees who cannot be tried or transferred and might have to be held much longer.

A top administration official acknowledged Thursday that some of the detainees in that third category could be held for years without a trial, but there would be a “process” for handling them that has been absent at Guantanamo.

About 60 prisoners have been approved for release under the Bush administration, but Washington has not been able to find countries willing to take them in.

Earlier Saturday, the German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that France has drawn up a plan for European Union nations to provide homes to 60 of the detainees.

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