President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start military commission trials for detainees there.
The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention centre, all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in US counterterrorism policy.
Administration officials said the president is still committed to closing the prison, although he made no mention of that goal in a short statement Monday.
The administration argues that it has the legal authority to continue to hold all of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay under the laws of war.
Federal courts have backed that assertion, although they have found that some detainees should be released for a lack of evidence against them.
David Remes, an attorney who represents 20 detainees, including 16 Yemenis, said he sees no substantive difference between the new system and the review process under the George W Bush administration, just "a new cast of characters" sitting on review boards.
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