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A major campaign promise in 2008 was back in the spotlight Tuesday as President Barack Obama promised to renew his push to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
The memoirs of one Guantanamo detainee were declassified and published Tuesday by Slate, where the prisoner writes he “trusted the American justice system too much.”
Slate's politics and foreign affairs editor William Dobson told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi was picked up in Mauritania 2001, shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City, and then transferred to Jordan for questioning.
“In Jordan [Slahi] was interrogation for close to eight months, and he was interrogated there under some of the harshest conditions – he was tortured,” Dobson said.
“From there the Jordanians said they did not believe this was a person who had any responsibility for any past terrorist plots. The U.S. government wasn’t satisfied with that response, and he was then sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, held for two weeks, and then ultimately moved to Guantanamo August 5, 2002, where he has remained ever since.”
Obama told reporters in a press briefing that he was “going to go back at this.”
“I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people,” he said.
In 2010, a U.S. District Court agreed with Slahi that the government lacked sufficient evidence to keep him at Guantanamo.
But, Dobson said, “Since that time, the Obama administration has appealed that decision and he is now waiting for his next rehearing, probably sometime later this year.”
Nearly 170 prisoners are still in Guantanamo Bay, approximately 100 are on weeks-long hunger strikes.
“What we have in Guantanamo now is 166 prisoners. I believe it’s about 83 of which who have been cleared for release, 93 are participating in this hunger strike. So the people that are participating in this hunger strike, many of those that are cleared for release but have lost all hope that they will ever be let go,” he said.
Dobson doubts, however, that Slahi is participating in the hunger strikes, given that doing so may jeopardize his case, which is actively moving through the U.S. court system.