Earlier last month, lawyers for Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, a Yemeni citizen who’s been detained in Guantánamo since January 16, 2002, petitioned the Supreme Court to review his case. His legal team argues that the US government lacks the authority to detain al-Alwi under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and that indefinite detention is illegal. Previously, the district and circuit courts denied al-Alwi’s habeas petition, which is why his lawyers are going to the Supreme Court. Al-Alwi’s case is a reminder of Guantánamo’s reality: The military commissions system is a kangaroo court designed to cover-up CIA torture while dozens of men remain indefinitely detained, and it’s likely that new prisoners could be transferred to Guantánamo.
Since 2002 when the Guantánamo prison first opened, over 700 prisoners have spent time in Guantánamo and most of them have been released since then. Currently, 40 detainees remain held in Guantánamo and only five are cleared for transfer, while most have not been charged or tried. Dubbed the “forever prisoners,” 26 are specifically held in indefinite detention without charge or trial. Meanwhile, only two prisoners have already been convicted and seven have been charged in the military commissions system. Part of the US government’s justification for indefinitely detaining certain Guantánamo detainees is that they are both too difficult to prosecute, because of inadmissible and often torture-obtained evidence, and too dangerous to release. However, recidivism for former Guantánamo prisoners is low — 4.6 percent. In other words, it is rare that released Guantánamo prisoners participate in terrorist or militant activity. Indefinite detention violates international human rights law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised…