Typically, when a war ends, so does the combatants’ authority to detain the other side’s fighters. But as the conclusion of the US war in Afghanistan approaches, the inmate population of Guantánamo Bay is likely to be an exception – and, for the Obama administration, the latest complication to its attempt to close the infamous wartime detention complex.
In December, when President Barack Obama and his Nato allies formally end their combat role in Afghanistan, US officials indicate there is unlikely to be a corresponding release of detainees at Guantánamo who were captured during the country's longest conflict.
The question has been the subject of recent internal debate in the Obama administration, which is wrapped up in the broader question of future detention policy.
Already human rights groups and lawyers for the detainees say they anticipate filing a new wave of lawsuits challenging the basis for a wartime detention after the war ends – the next phase in more than a decade of attempts to litigate the end of indefinite detention.