Retiring U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Policy William K. Lietzau dropped a bombshell on the Obama administration in an interview with the London Daily Mail, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison (shown in photo) and an end to both the unconstitutional military commission trials of detainees and the so-called “war on terror” itself. Lietzau helped design the Bush-era “military commissions,” later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and has been in charge of maintaining U.S. detainee policy under much of the Obama administration.
According to the August 3 Daily Mail story, Lietzau claimed the Bush detainee policy he helped to create was mistaken: “Mr Lietzau said that if he were advising the Bush administration now, ‘I would argue that detainees should be kept in Afghanistan, or, if moving them is necessary, then into the United States. If I could change one thing in Gitmo’s past, I would have called them prisoners of war from the beginning.’”
President Obama campaigned in 2008 on a pledge to close the Guantanamo prison within a year, and signed Executive Order 13492 during his first week as president to close the facility. But the closure never happened, as the Obama administration gradually walked back its campaign promises.
Lietzau's comments came as a hunger strike among prisoners at Guantanamo reached six months. Prisoners have protested their treatment, which has included detainment for as long as 11 years without a trial or formal charges and force-feeding by U.S. jailers (which has led to torture charges by human rights organizations and the United Nations). Ironically, the majority of remaining detainees have been declared innocent and cleared for release by the U.S. government, though the detainees remain mired in legal limbo. Congress has enacted a law banning their release into the United States, and no country has been found that will accept the remaining detainees.
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