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Top admiral to study detainee prison

The Navy’s second-highest ranking officer, a four-star admiral, was named on Tuesday to conduct a new study of the military’s operation of the prison for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon announced.  A report on the announcement, by the Armed Forces Press Service, can be found here.

The new assignment for Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, vice chief of Naval Operations, is part of the Pentagon’s followup of President Obama’s Jan. 22 decision to close the Guantanamo facility within a year.  The admiral’s review “is a subset of the executive orders that the President signed,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

He added: “We take this tasking from the White House very seriously, and that’s why the Secretary (of Defense Robert Gates) has asked a four-star flag officer to go down there, and put fresh eyes on the situation down there, and come back with the most up-to-date assessment of detention operations.”

It appeared likely that Admiral Walsh, besides studying conditions of confinement of the prisoners there, will also examine the current state of the war crimes prosecution system — the military commissions.  The President has sought a halt to all trials before commissions pending a review.  The President also has ordered a wide-ranging review of legal issues involving further detention, release or prosecution of the 245 detainees still at Guantanamo.