Feinstein: Halt Gitmo prisoner transfers to countries with al-Qaeda presence

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suggested Sunday that the Obama administration should consider not repatriating any suspected terrorists to counties where al-Qaeda has a known presence.
 
Feinstein called on President Barack Obama not to release any detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a jetliner by a Nigerian man who spent time in Yemen.  
 

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During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Feinstein said she would “tend to agree” with Republican calls for the administration not to repatriate any detainees to countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan, where al-Qaeda is known to have a robust presence.
 
Obama announced Tuesday that he would suspend the transfers of additional detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen, but Feinstein wants him to go further.
 
Feinstein said between 24 and 28 suspected terrorists released from U.S. custody have returned to terrorist activity. She said a total of 74 former detainees are engaged in terrorist activity around the world.
 
“That’s bad,” said Feinstein. “Here’s the reason. They come out of Gitmo and they are heroes in this world [of terrorists]. This world is the only world that will be accepting of them. Therefore the tendency is to go back.
 
“The Gitmo experience is not one that leads to rehabilitation,” she added.
 
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, questioned the effectiveness of programs intended to rehabilitate former terrorist detainees.
 
“You shouldn’t be putting them to Yemen,” he said. “You shouldn’t be putting them into Saudi Arabia. There’s talk of this rehab program that they go through in Saudi Arabia — the results have been very, very mixed,” Hoekstra said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
 
“These people are released and a number go back to the battlefield,” he said, adding that former detainees form the “core of people who want to attack the United States.”
 
Feinstein said the Senate Intelligence panel is in the midst of a review of intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a flight to Detroit despite being listed in a database maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.
 
Feinstein said the panel would hold a hearing on Jan. 21 and issue a report with findings and recommendations.
 
Feinstein delivered a few preliminary recommendations during her Sunday television appearance.
 
She suggested that national security officials should simplify the criteria for the no-fly list and that any individual who is reasonably suspected of connection to a terrorist group should be barred from air travel.
 
Feinstein also said that technology needs to be improved to allow analysts to more easily digest the flood of intelligence gathered each day.
 
She said procedures for revoking visas should also undergo review.
 
Britain rejected a visa application from Abdulmutallab in May and placed him on a list preventing his entry into Britain.
 
Abdulmutallab, however, gained a visa for entry into the United States.