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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 20, 2009
Attorney General Appoints Executive Director to Lead New Task Force on Review of Guantanamo Bay Detainees

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of an Executive Director to lead a new interagency task force charged with continued implementation of the President’s Jan. 22 Executive Order calling for an immediate review of the status of individuals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

The Executive Director, Matthew G. Olsen, will lead the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force, which is responsible for assembling and examining relevant information and making recommendations regarding the proper disposition of each individual currently detained at Guantanamo Bay.

In accordance with the President’s Order, the Task Force will consider whether it is possible to transfer or release detained individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States; evaluate whether the government should seek to prosecute detained individuals for crimes they may have committed; and, if none of those options are possible, the Task Force will recommend other lawful means for disposition of the detained individuals.

The Order provides that the Attorney General shall coordinate this review in conjunction with the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order for the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay to be closed within one year from the date of the Executive Order.

"As a leader of the Department’s National Security Division and 12-year career federal prosecutor, Mr. Olsen has the experience and judgment to lead the team’s evaluation of these individual cases," said Attorney General Holder. "We’ve established a solid framework for the administration to make the right decision on each individual detainee -- decisions that will most effectively serve the interests of justice and the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States."

As Executive Director for the detention review process, Mr. Olsen will be responsible for managing the consideration and disposition of individual detainee cases as set forth in the President’s Order. He will supervise review teams consisting of representatives from the Justice Department and the other agencies identified in the President’s Order.

These multi-agency teams will conduct the specific detainee reviews and develop options and recommendations for the Executive Director to present to a Review Panel consisting of senior-level officials from each of the relevant Departments and agencies who are authorized to make decisions as to the disposition of each detainee. Review Panel members will be responsible for ensuring that each department or agency devotes the necessary resources so that the Task Force can conduct this review and enable closure of the facility within the one-year time frame required under the Executive Order.

Until his appointment today, Mr. Olsen served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, where he managed the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Previously, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, he helped establish the National Security Division in 2006 and supervised the Department’s intelligence operations and oversight.

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