Guantanamo: The Definitive Prisoner List (Updated for Summer 2010)

In March 2009, I published a four-part list identifying all 779
prisoners held at Guantanamo since the prison opened on January 11,
2002, which I updated in January this year.

In March 2009, I published a four-part list identifying all 779
prisoners held at Guantanamo since the prison opened on January 11,
2002, which I updated in January this year. To keep up with
developments over the last six months, I have now updated it again, and
the four parts of the list are available here: Part One, Part Two, Part ThreeandPart Four.

As I explained when I first compiled the list, the original product of my research was my book The Guantanamo Files,
in which, based on an exhaustive analysis of 8,000 pages of documents
released by the Pentagon (plus other sources), I related the story of
Guantanamo, established a chronology explaining where and when the
prisoners were seized, told the stories of around 450 of these men (and
boys), and provided a context for the circumstances in which the
remainder of the prisoners were captured.

The list provides references to the chapters in The Guantanamo Files
where the prisoners' stories can be found, and also provides numerous
links to the hundreds of articles that I have written over the last
three years, for a variety of publications, expanding on and updating
the stories of all 779 prisoners. In particular, I have covered the
stories of the 199 prisoners released from Guantanamo between June 2007
and May 2010 in unprecedented depth, as well as the 50 prisoners whose
habeas corpus petitions have been the subject of rulings in the
District Court in Washington D.C. (see "Guantanamo Habeas Results: The Definitive List"
for links to all my articles, and to the judges' rulings). I also
covered the stories of the 27 prisoners charged in Guantanamo's
Military Commission trial system under the Bush administration (and
have covered the handful of cases revived, falteringly, by President
Obama) in more detail than is, or was available from most, if not all
other sources.

In addition, the list also includes links to the 12 online chapters,
published between November 2007 and February 2009 (see the links in the
left-and column), in which I told the stories of over 250 prisoners
that I was unable to include in the book (either because they were not
available at the time of writing, or to keep the book at a manageable

As a result - and notwithstanding the fact that the New York Times
had made a list of documents relating to each prisoner available online
- I maintain that I am justified in stating that the list is "the most
comprehensive list ever published of the 779 prisoners who have been
held at Guantanamo," providing details of the 591 prisoners released
(and the dates of their release), and the 181 prisoners still held
(including information on those cleared for release by military review
boards under the Bush administration or by President Obama's Guantanamo
Review Task Force), for the same reason that my book provides what I
have been told is an unparalleled introduction to Guantanamo and the
stories of the men held there: because it provides a much-needed
context for these stories that is difficult to discern in the
Pentagon's documents without detailed analysis.

This update to the four parts of the list draws on the 150+ articles that I have published in the last six months,
tracking the Obama administration's lamentable failure to close the
prison as promised, to thoroughly repudiate the Bush administration's
policies, and to hold anyone accountable for introducing torture as official policy.
Throughout this period, I have reported the stories of the 17 prisoners
released, and have also covered the habeas petitions in unprecedented
detail. I am pleased to report that 37 habeas cases have now been won
by the prisoners (out of 51 in total), but I remain concerned that the
District Court judges are obliged to approve the ongoing detention of
soldiers at Guantanamo, when they should be held as prisoners of war,
and I'm also disappointed that President Obama has only released 59
prisoners since he took office.

Of the 181 prisoners who remain, 97 have been approved for release
by the Task Force and 35 are scheduled to face trials, but 48 others
have been designated as suitable for indefinite detention without
charge or trial - a distressing development
that may well mark the nadir of President Obama's promise to mark any
kind of meaningful change from his predecessor. One other man, Ali Hamza al-Bahlul,
is serving a life sentence after a one-sided trial by Military
Commission in 2008 (although his sentence is being appealed), and
another - Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani
- was transferred to the US mainland to face a federal court trial in
May 2009, before Congress descended into the kind of cynical
scaremongering that regards trial for terrorists - and respect for the
Constitution - as somehow quaint and obsolete.

As for my intention, it remains the same as it did when I first published the list. As I explained at the time:

It is my hope that this project will provide an
invaluable research tool for those seeking to understand how it came to
pass that the government of the United States turned its back on
domestic and international law, establishing torture as official US
policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither as prisoners of
war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects to
be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as "illegal enemy

I also hope that it provides a compelling explanation of how that
same government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
and Donald Rumsfeld, established a prison in which the overwhelming
majority of those held - at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys
imprisoned in total - were either completely innocent people, seized as
a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or
Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war
that began long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and
that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international

To this I would only add that, nearly a year and a half after
President Obama took office, I hope that the list and its references
provide a useful antidote to the administration's apparent paralysis,
and to the cynical scaremongering of lawmakers that I outlined above.

Nearly six months on from President Obama's failure to close
Guantanamo by his self-imposed deadline of January 22, 2010, it now
seems almost inconceivable that so many of us once thought it possible,
because of the extent to which the administration has lost its purpose,
and the extent to which lawmakers (and media pundits) delight in
channeling the lies and distortions of former Vice President Dick
Cheney, with an arrogant disregard for how ridiculous this appears to
the rest of the world.

Six months ago, I mentioned that there was no reason for
complacency. That was perhaps optimistic, as now I can only exhort
those who oppose torture, arbitrary detention and political bankruptcy
to resist despair. However, as the ninth anniversary of the 9/11
attacks approaches, it remains imperative - for those of us who call
for the full reinstatement of the Geneva Conventions for prisoners of
war, federal court trials for terrorists and accountability for those
who authorized torture - that we maintain the pressure to close
Guantanamo, and to charge or release the prisoners held there, as
swiftly as possible.

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