Where do things stand at Guantánamo? Six basic questions answered.

President Obama this week pledged to “reengage” with Congress to find a way to close the terror detention camp at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, naval base. The renewed focus comes as 100 of the 166 detainees are reported to be engaged in a hunger strike. Here is a brief look at where things stand now.

4. How many Guantánamo detainees were actually transferred to the US under the Obama administration’s plan?

Elizabeth Williams/AP
In this courtroom sketch, Ahmed Ghailani listens as he is sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for his role in the 1998 African embassy attacks.

A. One.  

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused of involvement in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, was transferred from Guantánamo to a pretrial detention cell in New York City in June 2009.

He was tried in federal court, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. During the trial, the judge barred testimony from a key witness because investigators learned of the witness as a result of information obtained during coercive CIA interrogations. Mr. Ghailani faced 285 charges, including more than 200 murder counts. The jury acquitted him of all charges, except one conspiracy count.

Supporters of Guantánamo and military commissions pointed to his acquittal on 284 charges as evidence that special commissions with different rules of evidence were necessary to try terror suspects.

Those favoring use of the criminal justice system emphasized the fact that Ghailani was convicted and received a life sentence. They said it was proof that US civilian courts are up to the task of bringing accused terrorists to justice.

The next step was to bring alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York City to stand trial for the attacks on the World Trade Center. Members of Congress pushed back, saying he didn’t deserve a trial in federal court and that the case would paint a fresh bull’s eye on Manhattan for would-be terrorists. In the face of mounting opposition, the Obama administration reversed its plan for a New York City trial and put its plans to close Guantánamo on hold.

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