Yet the fact remains that 86 of the prisoners in Guantanamo were cleared for release three years ago following a year-long investigation of their cases by an interagency task force of officials at the Department of Justice, Pentagon, State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
These detainees, some now on hunger strike, have good reason to despair that they will remain in Guantanamo forever. Their cases have been exhaustively investigated. They have found to be guilty of nothing, yet they are being held indefinitely. Indefinite detention without charge is a policy that we usually associate with dictatorships, not democracies.
Add to this the facts that less than 3% of the detainees at Guantanamo can be confirmed by the public record to have engaged in anti-American terrorism or insurgent actions following their release and those 17 detainees were all released before the intensive review of the cases of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo began under the Obama administration in 2009.
And so the Guantanamo prisoners who have been cleared for release remain in seemingly perpetual custody, not because they've been charged or because the rate of former detainees joining militant groups is at all high, but because Washington politics has effectively ensured that there is nowhere else for them to go.
For these prisoners, attempting to starve themselves to death is an almost rational response to their bleak future.
It's a story that Kafka might have written. Unfortunately, this one is true.
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