President Barack Obama’s intelligence chief confirmed Thursday that some Guantanamo inmates may be released on US soil and receive assistance to return to society.
“If we are to release them in the United States, we need some sort of assistance for them to start a new life,” said National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair at his first press conference.
“You can’t just put them on the street,” he added. “All that is work in progress.”
Obama has vowed to close the controversial prison camp by next January and has ordered individual reviews for cases against each of the over 240 remaining prisoners.
Blair told reporters that the review of Guantanamo cases was still underway, and that the government was “building dossiers on each of the detainees.”
The Obama administration is currently evaluating what could be done with the prisoners, he said, but pledged that if they are sent to another country, “we have to be sure that that country will treat them in a humane fashion.”
Twenty men detained at the remote US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in southern Cuba have been cleared of terrorism charges, including 17 Chinese Uighurs ordered released by a US court in June, seven years after their arrest. But the US says they may face persecution if returned to China.
In an executive order signed days after he took office in January, Obama also promised to uphold the Geneva Conventions for the remaining prisoners until the detention center is closed.
Blair touched on the controversial interrogation techniques used on terror suspects under the administration of president George W. Bush, saying that those methods — including waterboarding, or simulated drowning — would not be used under his tenure.
But Blair, a retired US admiral, added that his team was examining other “enhanced interrogation techniques” for high-value detainees that comply with international conventions on prisoners of war.
He did not elaborate on what methods would be used, but said such interrogations should be carried out by “government employees; they shouldn’t be contractors; they should be highly trained, very supervised.”