Overnight Defense: Supreme Court to hear Gitmo detainee's request for information on CIA-sponsored torture | General says preparations for Afghanistan withdrawal underway | Army replacing head of criminal investigations division

Overnight Defense: Supreme Court to hear Gitmo detainee's request for information on CIA-sponsored torture | General says preparations for Afghanistan withdrawal underway | Army replacing head of criminal investigations division
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Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case from a Guantanamo Bay detainee seeking information after he was held in a CIA “black site” following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Abu Zubaydah is seeking to subpoena two CIA contractors who helped develop interrogation tactics used during the George W. Bush administration that international courts later deemed to be torture.

Background: Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 as a member of al Qaeda and has been in U.S. custody ever since, spending time in numerous facilities. He says he was subjected to sleep deprivation and was waterboarded 83 times.

The government has acknowledged his time in custody “included the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” 

A federal district court previously sided with the government, which argued that the subpoenas risk revealing state secrets. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the information segregated so that the rest could potentially be released.

The Trump administration appealed that decision in December.

In other Gitmo news: Over the weekend, we took a look at what, if anything, President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE’s withdrawal from Afghanistan could mean for the future of Guantanamo.

At least two prisoners who have been challenging their detention have already updated their complaints to include Biden’s withdrawal as a reason they should be released.

But the war on terrorism will continue even after the last U.S. service member leaves Afghanistan. And the congressional war authorization that has also been used as the legal justification for indefinite detention at Guantanamo does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

“I think the short answer is that we just don’t know,” Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, said of the withdrawal’s effect on Guantanamo.


If you missed it over the weekend, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan confirmed U.S. forces there are getting ready to withdraw in line with Biden’s order.

The official start date for the withdrawal is May 1, or this Saturday, but Gen. Scott Miller told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that all his forces “are now preparing to retrograde.”

“Officially, the notification date will be the first of May. But at the same time, as we start taking local actions, we've already begun that,” Miller, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, continued when asked during a news conference if American withdrawal from bases had begun.

More reinforcements sent: As noted in this newsletter Friday, two B-52 bombers had arrived in the region to help protect U.S. forces from any attack as they withdraw.

On Monday, U.S. Air Forces Central Command confirmed another B-52s arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to help with force protection, for a total of four B-52s deployed for the withdrawal.

CNN also reported Monday that about 650 troops, mostly from the 75th Ranger Regiment, will be sent into Afghanistan to provide force protection.

Asked about the report at a press briefing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to confirm specifics, but reiterated that “you can expect that there will be an addition of posture in Afghanistan to assist with this drawdown to make sure that it is safe and orderly.”


The Army will replace the head of its Criminal Investigation Command, moving the official less than a year after assigning her to the role.

Defense One first reported Monday that Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, the provost marshal general of the Army and commanding general of Army Criminal Investigation Command since July, will be replaced following scrutiny over how the division handled the slaying of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

Martin took over the command 10 days after Guillen’s body was found near Fort Hood, Texas. 

What the Army says: The Army put out a statement later on Monday stressing that Martin remains in her current position but that she would be replaced at a later date via a “planned transition” by Brig. Gen. Duane Miller. Miller is currently deputy provost marshal general and deputy commanding general of the command.

Martin’s “next assignment has not yet been announced. The Army announced Feb. 23, 2021 that Brig. Gen. Duane Miller will be Maj. Gen. Martin’s replacement. The change of command date has not been set. This is a planned transition and any insinuation to the contrary is false,” spokesperson Col. Cathy Wilkinson said.

Turnover rate: This would be the second time in two years that the Army has replaced its head law enforcement officer, with Martin replacing Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen after he had spent a year in the role.  


The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on Defense Department management challenges and opportunities with testimony from outside experts at 9:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/3xsq1Nd

Missile Defense Agency director Vice Adm. Jon Hill will testify behind closed doors to the Senate Appropriation Committee’s defense subcommittee at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/32TUSUQ

Acting Army Secretary John Whitley, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and commanding general of Army Futures Command Gen. John Murray will participate in a virtual conversation with the Center for a New American Security at 1 p.m. https://bit.ly/3sTJFyn

U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Frank McKenzie will speak at an American Enterprise Institute event at 1 p.m. https://bit.ly/2R36FNX

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday will participate in a virtual roundtable hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments at 2 p.m. https://bit.ly/3ex5yOX

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hold a hearing the effects of climate change in Africa with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. https://bit.ly/3ezY8u6

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan with testimony from U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/3vmOWjK


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