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U.S. sends 2 home from Guantanamo

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

The United States sent two long-cleared Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia during the weekend, the latest move in renewed efforts to empty the prison that President Obama ordered closed in 2009.

The Pentagon identified the two men as Saad Muhammed Qahtani, 34, and Hamood Abdulla Hamood, 48. The men were brought to Gitmo in 2002. Neither was charged.

The transfer reduced the prison population to 160 as the Pentagon pressed forward with two death penalty proceedings on the base.

At the war court on Monday, lawyers for the men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were studying a judge's sealed ruling that appeared to let the five defendants talk about what the CIA did to them in years of secret custody before they got to Guantanamo.

According to the ruling, attorney James Connell said, defense attorneys like himself are forbidden from divulging classified CIA information. But the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, said the Sept. 11 defendants' “thoughts and memories” are their own.

“This ruling is an important step forward in accountability for torture,” Connell said.

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