Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants

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For more information, see: Extrajudicial detention, U.S., George W. Bush Administration.

The Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants was created to be responsible for the administrative status review of persons held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp initial Combatant Status Review Tribunals and annual Administrative Review Board hearings. Many of its functions have passed to the convening authority for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, headed by Susan Crawford, or into the Federal judicial system.

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals that OARDEC set up were outwardly very similar to those set up by under the authority of Army Regulation 190-8.[1] They differed, however, in their mandate. They were only authorized to review whether earlier secret procedures had correctly determined that the captives should have been determined to have been enemy combatants.

558 Tribunals were convened between August of 2004 and January of 2005, one for each captive then held in Guantanamo. The final recommendation of the CSR Tribunal system was that 520 of the captives had originally been correctly determined to have been enemy combatants. The Tribunal system recommended that 38 of those captives should be classified as "no longer enemy combatants".

Members of the Press observed 37 of the Tribunals.[2]

In the winter and spring of 2007 14 more CSR Tribunals were convened, for 14 "High Value Detainees", who had been transferred to military custody from years of captivity in secret CIA interrogation camps. There were some differences in the procedure for their Tribunals, including that members of the press were not permitted to attend their Tribunals.

As of October 2007 five more captives have been transferred to Guantanamo, who have yet to have a CSR Tribunal make a recommentation about their enemy combatant status.

The Administrative Review Board hearings

Plans for the Administrative Review Board were announced on February 13, 2004, five months prior to the announcement of the CSR Tribunal.[3] The first Board hearings were not convened until December 2004.

The Administrative Review Board are also outwardly similar to the Tribunals described in Army Regulation 190-8. For every captive whose enemy combatant status was confirmed by a CSR Tribunal has a Board convene once a year to consider whether that captive should still be held by the USA, or because they continued to represent a threat to the USA, or because their detention continues to hold intelligence value.

Internal criticisms of OARDEC's operation

In February 2005, after the first 558 CSR Tribunals had been convened, but before the captive's names had been released, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz, an officer in the United States Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps leaked a copy of an official list of the captives' names to the Center for Constitutional Rights.[4]

On June 22, 2007, an appeal on behalf of Guantanamo captive Fawzi al-Odah contained an affidavit from Stephen Abraham, a lawyer and United States Army reserve officer, which was highly critical of OARDEC's procedures.[5] Abraham, a reserve military intelligence officer and a civilan attorney. Abraham sat on one Tribunal and spent the rest of his six month term at Guantanamo reviewing and coordinating the release of evidence from other agencies that was being prepared for other captive's Tribunals According to the Washington Post Abraham felt compelled to come forward after hearing his former boss, Rear Admiral James M. McGarrah call the Tribunal process "fair".

A second officer, a Major, who identity has not yet been released, who sat on 49 CSR Tribunals came forward in September 2007 with his own criticisms of the Tribunal process.[6]

The release of OARDEC documents

Approximately 2,200 documents prepared for the CSR Tribunal and hearings have been released.[7]