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Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer

Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer
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Republicans are excoriating the latest prisoner transfer at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, saying it shows President Obama putting his political agenda above national security.

“The troubling trend continues,” Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in written statement. “In the president’s mad dash to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, dangerous jihadists are being released to foreign countries that are ill-equipped to handle them. And all the while, the administration refuses to tell the American people the truth about what’s really happening.”

Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al Rahabi, 37, a citizen of Yemen, was sent to Montenegro after 14 years at the detention facility, the Pentagon announced Wednesday night.

Al Rahabi was alleged to be a member of al Qaeda and a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. He also allegedly received specialized close combat training for a role as a suicide operative in an aborted component of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He was never charged with a crime, and a review board determined by consensus that continuing to detain him “does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States,” the Pentagon said in its announcement.

Republican opposition to transferring inmates out of the facility has hardened in recent weeks after a report that at least a dozen former detainees released in recent years have gone on to launch attacks that killed about a half-dozen Americans. More than 100 additional prisoners released during the George W. Bush administration also returned to the battlefield, the report said.

Royce, who in May sent a letter to administration officials alleging they were knowingly sending detainees to countries ill-equipped to take them, slammed the Obama administration Thursday for failing to respond to him.

“The silence is deafening,” he said. “Especially since news reports now indicate that at least 12 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to battlefields to kill Americans.”

Continuing to empty the detention facility is “totally unacceptable,” Royce continued.

“The House Foreign Affairs Committee is determined to expose the truth about the administration’s actions that are putting American lives at risk,” he pledged.

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain's DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony MORE (R-N.H.) said releasing al Rahabi is part of an “irresponsible, misguided and dangerous” plan by Obama.

"With more than 30 percent of former Guantanamo detainees suspected or confirmed of returning to terrorism — some of whom have killed Americans — releasing a terrorist selected to serve as a bin Laden bodyguard and to participate in a hijacking plot can only be viewed as a reckless gamble by the White House with the lives of Americans,” she said.

The recidivism rate has been a point of contention between Republicans and the Obama administration.

The 30 percent figure cited by Republicans refers to detainees released by both Obama and Bush who have been confirmed or suspected of reentering the fight.

Administration officials, meanwhile, highlight the fact that just 4.9 percent of detainees released by Obama are confirmed to be re-engaging in terrorism. Another 8 percent released by Obama are suspected of re-engaging.

Republicans have moved to make it more difficult to transfer detainees to foreign countries. For example, last week, the House approved an amendment to a defense spending bill that would prevent the transfer of detainees to “any other location.”

In response to the latest transfer, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) renewed calls to pass her bill, which would ban transfers through the end of the year or until the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act with stricter transfer requirements is enacted.

“The terrorist detainees being released from Guantanamo Bay — like Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard — are the worst of the worst,” Walorski said in a written statement. “The administration’s plan to recklessly free at least two dozen terrorists this summer in an effort to close Gitmo puts American lives at risk. That is why I introduced a bill to immediately ban transfers for the rest of the year, or until new safeguards in the National Defense Authorization Act are signed into law.”