'Flood' Of Detainees Due For Release This Summer




 
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'Flood' Of Detainees Due For Release This Summer
 
April 21st, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: 'Flood' Of Detainees Due For Release This Summer


'Flood' Of Detainees Due For Release This Summer
Air Force Times
April 30, 2007
Holding time limited to 36 months in U.S. custody
By Erik Holmes, Air Force Times Staff Writer
BAGHDAD — More than 70 of the most dangerous criminals in American custody in Iraq will be released starting in July unless the coalition and the Iraqi government figure out a legal basis for holding them longer.
Fearing that these detainees will go right back to attacking coalition forces and Iraqi citizens, officials at the highest levels of the Iraqi government and U.S. forces in Iraq are scrambling to come up with a last-minute solution.
“We’re talking about very dangerous men ... possibly being released,” said Navy Lt. Timothy Delgado, a lawyer with Task Force 134, which oversees detainee operations. “That can’t happen obviously. ... We’re now at the point where we need to figure out what to do, and that will be something for the Iraqi government and the legal advisers, and probably a decision at the [American] four-star level, on how we’re going to deal with it.”
About 18,000 detainees are in U.S. custody in Iraq. Multi-National Force-Iraq, which has authority over detainees, did not respond to requests for comment on how it plans to deal with the situation.
The detention system created by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led transitional government that ruled Iraq from April 2003 until the new Iraqi government came to power in June 2004, allows the coalition to hold detainees without trial for 36 months from their date of capture.The first group of detainees held under the rule, known as CPA Memo No. 3, will hit the 36-month mark in July, and “a flood” will come in August, Delgado said.
In February 2006, a Task Force 134 group called the Joint Detainee Review Committee reviewed the cases of the detainees in question after they had been in custody for 18 months. The committee decided they presented a sufficient security risk and that they should spend an additional 18 months — the maximum — in confinement. That expires in July and August.
“Only the most dangerous detainees would be detained that additional 18 [months],” Delgado said.
No specific information is available about the allegations against them, but most of the detainees held by Task Force 134 are accused of attacking or plotting against coalition or Iraqi forces or Iraqi citizens.
According to Delgado and another Task Force 134 lawyer, Navy Lt. Abby Kagle, the problem was created by the Coalition Provisional Authority’s lack of foresight during the early days of the war.
‘No one knew how long’
“When [the detention rule] was drafted ... no one knew how long we would necessarily be over here, obviously, [and] how long the war would be going,” Kagle said. “So they drafted it in such a way to ensure that they had something in place that was a fair process and that did allow [detainees] to receive due process review. Now, unfortunately, we’re at the point where we’ve been here so long that something new has to be put in place.”
Not all of the alleged insurgents, terrorists and criminals detained by coalition forces are covered under the system. Detainees against whom Task Force 134 thinks a legal case can be made are tried by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, an all-Iraqi court. If convicted, they are sentenced and transferred to the custody of the Iraqi government.
But many detainees whom the Americans believe are guilty cannot be successfully prosecuted and must therefore be held under the detention system overseen by Task Force 134.
Delgado said some detainees cannot be tried because the evidence needed to convict them is classified. In other cases, witnesses will not testify for fear they will be killed.
Therefore, these detainees get reverted to the extra-judicial system, which tops out at 36 months served.
Delgado and Kagle could not discuss solutions to the problem, although Delgado said there is a possibility the detainees could be “released with a guarantor [who] could, in effect, vouch for their good character and behavior.”
 


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