President should reconsider reckless Guantanamo detainee policy
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Last week the Obama administration approved the largest release of detainees from the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These fifteen hardened terrorists will be transferred and placed under the custody of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This prisoner release greatly concerns me.  As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I believe this transfer is reckless and shortsighted. In his effort to accelerate the closing of this detention facility, the president is ‘throwing the baby out with that bath water.’ While he aims to fulfill his political agenda, his actions jeopardize the security of the United States and the lives of all Americans.

The administration says those individuals being transferred will be detained and monitored in their new host country. However, what we have seen in the past is that these host countries are not up to the task or adequately equipped to monitor these prisoners. As stated by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), in one of his opening statements, “Simply put, many countries just aren’t up to the job. And a diplomatic agreement to do the job isn’t worth the paper it is written on if a country doesn’t have the resources or training to keep committed terrorists from returning to the battlefield.” While the UAE has been a longtime partner of the U.S. in the war on terror, it is also one of the largest transportation hubs in the world and its borders are porous.  Effectively monitoring and tracking these individuals could prove challenging.

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Previous detainee releases have set a disturbing precedent of being recirculated back into the battlefield. This has jeopardized the lives of American military personnel fighting radical jihadists on the front lines. Just last June, the Washington Post ran a story that at least 12 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay prison, have in fact carried out attacks against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. These attacks are reported to have killed a half-dozen U.S. personnel. Also, roughly a month ago, a former al-Qaeda operative, Jihad Diyab was reportedly arrested in Venezuela. This former Guantanamo Bay detainee – released to Uruguay along with five other terrorists in 2014 – had a refugee passport card and was seeking to travel to Turkey. If this doesn’t concern you, it should. Detainees, who don’t make it back to the battlefield, usually remain active in the planning of future attacks overseas and here in the United States.

In February, President Obama laid out a plan to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay. People have stated that it is a recruiting tool for radical jihadists. I don’t buy this argument against our vital military prison in the Caribbean. Long before this prison was the U.S. holding cell for the world’s terrorists, radical jihadists recruited and carried out murderous attacks on their own. They didn’t need one single location to motivate them to plot the murder of those they deemed non-believers. Guantanamo Bay should not be closed without a clear concrete plan on how to deal with the most dangerous of its remaining inmates and where to transfer them. It is clear; we cannot trust other host nations to adequately look after these prisoners. The inmates, who pose the biggest threat, those who have had extensive training abroad and have a clear desire to inflict death and destruction on Americans and all non-believers, should remain incarcerated.

Keeping hardened terrorists under surveillance at Guantanamo Bay is essential to the fight against global terrorism.  The new reality we are faced with is one of murderous terrorist organizations that are determined to rain destruction on America and freedom loving countries around the world. These groups do not represent nations and they only have one objective, and that is to destroy all who don’t subscribe to their radical ideology. I urge the president to think of the security of the American people and not accelerate the removal of detainees from Guantanamo. I encourage him to come to Capitol Hill and work with Congress to find a secure solution in dealing with these hardened terrorists. 


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.