No dissent in Guantanamo detainee review, Senate told

The Miami HeraldMarch 19, 2010 

All U.S. intelligence agencies agreed unanimously on which war-on-terror captives now held at Guantanamo can be let go and which alleged terrorists must be held — with or without trial, President Barack Obama's national intelligence director and attorney general told the Senate on Thursday.

The letter itself gave no breakdown to Congress. But the Obama administration leaked in late January that "roughly 110" of nearly 200 long-held foreign prisoners were cleared for transfer -- either to further imprisonment in other countries or outright release.

Thursday's letter says that Central Intelligence Agency analysts were a part of the analysis process, as well as representatives of the FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA. It was signed by Retired Adm. Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence and Attorney General Eric Holder.

In the end, it said, each decision was by agreement of six "senior-level officials" authorized to attend a weekly case review meeting from the Homeland Security, Justice, State and Defense departments, as well as from Blair and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The six who voted unanimously in each case, the letter said, relied upon the work of more than 100 Guantánamo Review Task Force staff members who included FBI and CIA analysts as well as "senior military officers, military prosecutors and national security lawyers."

The men addressed the letter to Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, John McCain and Christopher Bond, senior members of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, and said it was in response to a question by Levin on whether the CIA and DIA "concurred in the decisions to approve the transfer of certain detainees to countries outside the United States."

Congress has been increasingly interested in the processes by which Guantánamo detainees are released in light of periodic reports that some men who were sent to their homelands during the Bush administration have reemerged as active members of either al Qaida or the Taliban.

The Obama administration has argued that its review processes are more thorough and systematic.

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