Dear Family and Friends,

We received a notice from the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding an update on the Guantanamo Review Task Force and an upcoming meeting scheduled for June 16, 2009 from 9:00am to 12:00 noon at the Justice Deparment located in the Robert F. Kennedy Building, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C.. Details about registration are listed below. Note: the deadline to register is tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27th at 5:00 P.m.

In addition, the DOJ has set up a password protected website to keep family members informed. Please contact our office at 203-966-3911 and we will provide the passcodes to access the site.

Warm regards,




Greetings from the U.S. Department of Justice:

       As you may already know, on January 22, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13492 calling for a comprehensive review of each detainee currently held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, and directing the closure of the facility itself.  In the Order, the President gave the Justice Department significant responsibility to coordinate these efforts.  This email from the Justice Department is intended to keep victims and family members of victims of Al Qaeda attributed attacks, both in the United States and overseas, informed about ongoing developments as we work to carry out this effort.  Also on January 22, 2009, the President issued additional executive orders setting up two other task forces assigned to provide recommendations for U.S. policy in the future on detention and interrogation.  This e-mail also provides information about those task forces and an opportunity for you to provide your views to task force members. 


       In his January 22nd Executive Order, the President directed Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., to coordinate a review of Guantanamo detainees. To help carry out this mission, Attorney General Holder created the Guantanamo Review Task Force.  This task force is responsible for assembling and examining relevant information about each Guantanamo Bay detainee and making recommendations.  The task force will: 

            (1)    consider whether it is possible to transfer or release detained individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States;

            (2)    evaluate whether the government should seek to prosecute detained individuals for crimes they may have committed; and

            (3)    if none of those options are possible, the task force will recommend other lawful means for disposition of the detained individuals. 


        On January 22, 2009, President Obama also issued Executive Order Number 13493, establishing an interagency task force “to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.” 

Among the issues this task force is considering are:

*     What are the different ways in which the United States Government has apprehended terrorists in the past and what will our needs and concerns be in this regard in the future?

*     How effective are civilian courts and traditional law enforcement tools in prosecuting international terrorism cases? 

*     What policy or legal changes might be proposed to improve these courts and tools?

*     What are the advantages and disadvantages of using courts-martial or military commissions to prosecute such cases?

*     What forums should be available going forward to prosecute terrorists?

*     What is our current framework for detention of terrorists without criminal prosecution and what are the other options for such a framework? 




              On January 22, 2009, President Obama also issued Executive Order 13491, establishing a special task force to ensure lawful interrogations.  The mission of this task force is to study and evaluate interrogation practices and techniques and the practices of transferring individuals to other nations.


             In person meeting:  The Guantanamo Review Task Force and the Task Force on Detention Policy would like to offer those interested the opportunity to meet task force members, hear an overview of task force work, and express views about the policy questions the Task Force on Detention Policy is studying (some of those questions appear above under TASK FORCE ON DETENTION POLICY).  Due to the nature of its assignment, the Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies will not participate in the meeting.


              The meeting is scheduled for June 16, 2009 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.  It will take place at the Justice Department located in the Robert F. Kennedy Building, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530.  Although we would like to be able to meet personally with all who are interested, the combination of the short deadlines for our recommendations and the anticipated number of interested persons may not make that possible.  If necessary, we will set up a random number invitation system (similar to a lottery) for our face-to-face meeting through which we will select 50 names for the meeting from among those interested in attending.  We chose the location of Washington, D.C. so that the meeting attendees would have access to as many task force officials as possible.  To ensure the meeting is accessible to attendees, the Crime Victim’s Fund administered by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime will pay reasonable travel expenses. Visit the website listed above for more information about the invitation policy.   Please note that you must notify the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on May 27, 2009 to be considered for an invitation.  You can reach OVT by email at nsd.ovt@usdoj.gov <mailto:nsd.ovt@usdoj.gov>  or by calling 202-532-4100.  The government will keep the names of those who attend and the content of our conversation confidential.

              Written submissions:  For those unable to attend the meetings, but still interested in expressing views, we welcome written submissions.  Please send your written comments via email (nsd.ovt@usdoj.gov) or fax (202-514-4275) to OVT by June 19, 2009.   OVT staff will read every comment and provide a summary report to the Task Force on Detention Policy and the Guantanamo Review Task Force. We hope that as many of you as possible will take advantage of this opportunity, as your views are important to us. 


      Heather Cartwright
     Director, Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism
      National Security Division
      U.S. Department of Justice
      Fax: 202 514-4275