A Pentagon review board is assessing whether some of the more than 100 terror detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are eligible for release.
Under orders from the White House, the Pentagon's Periodic Review Board (PRB) is tasked with creating "a principled and sustainable process for reviewing and revisiting prior detention determinations ... identifying whether additional detainees may be designated for transfer," according to a department statement.
The work by the review board is part of President Obama's overall goal of shuttering the military prison in Cuba by the end of his final term in office.
Officials from the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community, as well as representatives from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security are heading up the review process.
Based on classified intelligence and other information on detainees currently being housed in Guantánamo, PRB members will weigh whether those terror suspects represent a "continuing significant threat to the security of the United States," according to department officials.
Part of that work will include "diplomatic considerations or security assurances related to the detainee's potential transfer" as well as "all mitigating information relevant to whether the detainee poses a continuing significant threat" to the United States or its allies, the board's charter states.
Board members would not take into account information "that has been obtained as a result of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" in their recommendation's for a detainee's possible release.
That said, the board also would not weigh in on whether a detainee's incarceration at Guantánamo is justified, under the 9/11-era rules of war on terror, known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
Detainees can appeal the legality of their detention during the PRB review process, but any legal challenges would be immediately referred to Hagel and Attorney General Eric Holder for review.
Reviewing potential detainee releases from Guantánamo is only the latest effort by the Obama White House to bring the military prison to a close.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel named Paul Lewis, a congressional lawyer, as special envoy for closing Guantánamo.
Hagel announced the Lewis pick Tuesday. He will report to the Pentagon Nov. 1.
Lewis joins Clifford Sloan, who was named as the State Department’s Guantánamo envoy in June.
The two will spearhead the White House's strategy to close the military prison in Cuba.
Only two detainees have been transferred from Guantánamo since May, after Obama lifted a moratorium on transfers to Yemen. Another 84 detainees have been cleared for transfer.
The House has held several votes defeating attempts to ease Guantánamo transfer restrictions and passed an amendment specifically restricting transfers to Yemen.
Most recently, Senate Republicans claim Obama's decision to send captured al Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi to federal court, and not Guantánamo, robs the intelligence community of a crucial opening to gain information about al Qaeda’s operations.
President Obama is letting his desire to see Guantánamo closed cloud his judgment, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
“In criminal [court] you are trying to solve a crime — in war, you are trying to defeat the enemy,” Graham said.