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Biden Ended the War, But Guantanamo Bay Is Still Open

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Even though President Joe Biden has finally extracted the United States from the forever war in Afghanistan, another uncomfortable legacy remains: the dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

In the coming days, attorneys told The Daily Beast that they plan to file motions in court arguing that the U.S. can no longer back up its reasons for detaining certain inmates now that President Biden has declared the war is over.

“He is supposedly being detained as an enemy combatant based on the war in Afghanistan,” said Mark Denbeaux, an attorney for Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, the first person the CIA tortured as part of its torture program. “Now that that war is over… detaining him as an enemy combatant is over.”

Husayn, better known as Abu Zubaydah, was originally captured in Pakistan in 2002, and detained on suspicion that he was a member of al Qaeda. He was tortured at a CIA black site: waterboarded, holed up in a small box, savagely thrown against a concrete wall. Eventually, the U.S. transferred him to languish in Guantanamo Bay for 15 years, where he has remained since, without ever being charged.

Under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, prisoners of war must be repatriated “without delay after the cessation of active hostilities”—and those hostilities are over now, Denbeaux says.

Nearly 800 detainees have passed through Guantanamo Bay detention center, and Zubaydah is just one of 39 inmates currently being held there. His case, however, could have ripple effects among the remaining detainees, experts told The Daily Beast.

Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, also said that, with the end of the war, the U.S. government has to reassess Guantanamo Bay.

“At this point the legal basis for the government’s detention authority is decisively unraveling,” Shamsi told The Daily Beast. “And the government needs to see this as an opportunity to follow through on President Biden’s promise both to end Guantanamo but also ensure that, as the United States goes forward as we come out hopefully from this era of post-9/11 abuses, that our government centers rule of law, commitment to human rights, and responsible policies that safeguard our collective security.”

In all, 27 remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay have never been charged with crimes, while a handful have already been recommended for transfer and repatriation to other countries, according to the ACLU.

But while the war in Afghanistan may be ostensibly over, ending........

© The Daily Beast

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