As part of its alleged "desire not to hold detainees any longer than necessary," the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that two Guantánamo prisoners had been transferred to Algeria. This follows the repatriation of two other Algerians - Mustafa Hamlili and Abdul Raham Houari - at the start of July, the first Algerians to be released from the prison in its six-and-a-half year history.
Cynics could argue, with some justification, that the releases were less to do with benevolence than with the fact that the U.S. administration has finally decided to clear out as much of the dead wood at Guantánamo as possible, following the U.S. Supreme Court's momentous decision in June, that the prisoners have constitutional habeas corpus rights; in other words, that they have the right to challenge the basis of their long detention without charge or trial before an impartial judge.
Like Hamlili and Houari before them, the two men just released had been cleared for release, following what the Pentagon refers to as "a comprehensive series of review processes," since 2005-06, on the basis that they no longer constituted a threat to the U.S. and its allies and/or no longer had ongoing intelligence value. These have become such commonplace expressions in connection with the Guantánamo prisoners that it's easy to forget that holding prisoners for over six years without charge or trial and then releasing them because they are no longer regarded as a threat or as a source of intelligence to be exploited like lab animals is utterly illegal. [More]