He Was Cleared to Leave Gitmo. Then His Window Closed

Abdul Latif Nasser got caught between 2 administrations
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2018 10:11 AM CDT
He Was Cleared to Leave Gitmo. Then His Window Closed
In this 2009 photo, Guantanamo detainees pray before dawn.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

The Huffington Post takes a detailed look at the case of a Guantanamo Bay detainee whose plight illustrates the hurdles involved in gaining release. Abdul Latif Nasser, 53, has been held at Gitmo without charge since May 2002. The Pentagon accused him of being a terrorist loyal to Osama bin Laden who followed bin Laden to Afghanistan, though Nasser's attorneys dispute that and his family says he has a stable home waiting for him in Morocco. The story, however, is more about Nasser's near-release in the waning days of the Obama White House. Nasser went up for review before the Periodic Review Board—a system akin to a parole board set up by the Obama administration—and learned in July 2016 that he had been recommended for release. His attorneys then rushed to complete the red tape before President Trump—a Gitmo backer—took office.

One key part of that process is that defense chief Ash Carter needed to give Congress 30 days' notice of his release, and Nasser's attorneys learned in late December it still hadn't happened: Dec. 21 marked 30 days before Trump's inauguration, but Morocco didn't agree to the security conditions the US proposed until Dec. 28. Nasser's attorneys filed an emergency motion in January, but the Justice Department successfully opposed it, and Jessica Schulberg points out the reason: While Obama had sought to close Gitmo—and had set up the PRB to speed releases—his administration still had to legally defend the detention of prisoners as long it remained open. "The Obama administration had won," writes Schulberg. "It had successfully defended the legality of continuing to imprison a man it had fought for months to release." Nasser is still imprisoned today. Read the full story. (More Longform stories.)

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