The real problem is not Guantanamo Bay. The problem is that, to a large extent, we are in unexplored territory with this unconventional and complex struggle against extremism. Traditional doctrines covering criminals and military prisoners do not apply well enough...And of course we have been looking for better suggestions as to how to manage detainees who pose a lethal threat to the civilized world, and we have already implemented dozens of reforms. (transcript)
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
GUANTANAMO BAY DETENTION CENTER
The Guantanamo Bay detention facility was established because the United States needed a safe and secure location to both detain and interrogate enemy combatants.
The Department of Defense, working through the National Security Council inter-agency process, established procedures to provide appropriate legal process to these detainees - procedures that go beyond what is required even under the Geneva Conventions. These include:
- Combatant Status Review Tribunals to confirm each individual is an unlawful enemy combatant.
- Military Commissions -- trials with full and vigorous representation by defense counsel for those suspected of committing war crimes.
- Administrative Review Boards that annually assess the remaining potential threat and intelligence value represented by each detainee.
Detainees are sent to Guantanamo only after a thorough screening process that identifies prisoners who pose a threat to the United States or who have intelligence value.
The kinds of people held at Guantanamo include terrorist trainers, bomb makers, extremist recruiters and financiers, bin Laden's bodyguards and would-be suicide bombers.
The Guantanamo facility is transparent and has been scrutinized.
- To set the record straight, DoD last year declassified and posted on the Internet highly sensitive memoranda on interrogation techniques.
- There have been nearly 400 separate media visits to the facility by more than 1,000 journalists.
- Some 180 congressional representatives have visited Guantanamo.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross has had continuous access, and its representatives meet privately with detainees.
Allegations of abuse at Guantanamo and other facilities have been thoroughly investigated.
- Wrong-doers are being held accountable.
- The military has instituted numerous reforms of detainee operations conduct, including a renewed emphasis on standards and training.
- Detainees' religious sensibilities are respected. Detailed regulations have been issued governing how the Koran is to be handled; detainees' schedules are arranged around the five daily calls to prayer required by the Muslim faith.; dietary requirements are acknowledged.