Almost nine months ago, President Obama signed into law legislation that required his Administration to produce a report to Congress concerning the identities and backgrounds of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detention facility in Cuba. This declassified report has finally been released and it offers details on over 100 detainees who are currently being held in, or have been recently released from Gitmo.
Prior to this report, the Department of Defense (DOD) had been reluctant to disclose information about those held at this state-of-the-art facility. What is contained in this newly released declassified report shows that detainees at Gitmo are among the worst of the worst. They are committed to waging jihad against America and releasing them to foreign countries will not stop these terrorists from their mission. Administration officials were forced to admit this much after it became clear that some former Gitmo detainees had returned to the battlefield and were reported to be responsible for the death of Americans.
Yet, President Obama continues to remove dangerous prisoners from the facility. The Administration just released 15 detainees and, judging from the information about them in this report, they will likely follow the path of those who have returned to the battlefield. These detainees, among other things, served as bodyguards for Osama bin Laden, fought on the frontlines against coalition forces and served as instructors at al Qaeda terror camps. These are dangerous individuals.
President Obama made an irresponsible campaign promise to close Gitmo before the end of his presidency. This report, along with comments from Administration officials about continued efforts to transfer Gitmo detainees, should be a wake-up call that President Obama intends to empty Gitmo despite Congressional denial of his demands to close it.
I’ve supported repeated attempts to block the Administration from shuttering the facility or transferring detainees to U.S. soil, including introducing resolutions calling for fighters involved with the Islamic State (ISIS) to be detained at Gitmo if they are captured by the United States and formally rejecting President Obama’s plan to transfer prisoners from Gitmo to locations on American soil, as well as supporting legislation that would require the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress of any intended transfers of detainees and certify that they no longer pose a threat to national security.
There is no reason to close Gitmo. It is well-equipped to handle the world’s most dangerous terrorists. I saw this firsthand during a 2011 visit. The operations at the naval base are safe, humane, legal and transparent. This is a well-guarded, isolated facility. No community in America has a facility that offers the security of Gitmo. Transferring these men to U.S. soil cannot be an option.
This report sheds much-needed light on who these prisoners are and why it is important to continue holding them at Gitmo rather than releasing them to the care of other nations where some will undoubtedly return to the battlefield.
President Obama needs to abandon his efforts to shutter Gitmo. My colleagues and I will continue to use Congressional oversight authority to keep the President from fulfilling an ill-advised campaign pledge that jeopardizes the safety of all Americans.