Gitmo Is The Best Place For Enemy Combatants

The White House is desperate to close Guantanamo Bay — no matter the cost. But the Obama administration can no longer keep the American people in the dark on the threat these terrorists pose to the U.S. and our allies. This month, it was reported 12 former Guantanamo detainees were implicated in attacks that killed half a dozen Americans. The deaths of our citizens at the hands of these released detainees underscores the inherent danger in the Administration’s efforts to transfer these hardened terrorists and close Gitmo for good.

Since 2009, the administration has released 160 detainees. So far this year, the administration has transferred at least 27 detainees to foreign countries through undisclosed agreements. Another 24 detainees have been cleared for transfer in the next few months. We are sending terrorists to foreign countries, some of which have little to no experience with confining and monitoring hardened terrorists. This increases the risk that these individuals may re-engage in terrorism against the United States and our allies.

According to the director of National Intelligence, roughly 30 percent of the terrorists released from Guantanamo are known or suspected to have re-joined the fight against Americans. This view and statistic is widely shared by the intelligence community yet the administration remains committed to a less than transparent transfer and release system. When detainees are transferred from Gitmo to the custody of a foreign country, Congress and the American people often do not know the details of any agreement among the Administration and the foreign governments where a detainee will be transferred. Currently, any information about these agreements is classified.

For these reasons, I introduced amendments to the annual defense bill to increase transparency and accountability by requiring the administration to provide the American people with the details surrounding any agreement associated with the transfer of a Gitmo detainee to a foreign country as well as reduce foreign aid for nations who lose track of terrorists formerly held at Gitmo. Earlier this year, following the transfer of two terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Ghana, I led a group of senators in urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to cut foreign aid to Ghana if the country is unable to hold and monitor the two detainees and ensure they do not re-engage in terrorism against the United States.

I have worked to block the transfer of Gitmo detainees since 2009 when I authored language to block the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense from acting on a 2009 presidential memorandum to relocate detainees to Thomson Correctional Center in our state.

Real accountability in these processes is crucial. While Gitmo remains the safest and most secure place on the planet to lock up enemy combatants, any country that accepts Gitmo transferees and loses control of these terrorists should face severe consequences. These steps are critical to keeping released detainees away from terror hotspots and keeping Americans safe, but they alone are not enough. We need to keep dangerous terrorists locked up safely and securely in Gitmo so we’re not ever putting American lives at risk again.

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