Inhofe: Gitmo release will 'embolden terrorists'

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal Top Republican proposes leaving 1,000 US troops in Afghanistan into next year The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP MORE (R-Okla.) is bashing President Obama for releasing four more Guantánamo Bay detainees, arguing that the move will "embolden terrorists."

“The four detainees the White House released last week have reported ties to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, yet are now being sent back to Afghanistan where we have men and women serving in harms way," said Inhofe, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement Monday.


"This release will only serve to embolden terrorists in the region and around the world to continue the fight against America and its allies, overseas and here at home," he added. 

The administration on Friday transferred four detainees to their native Afghanistan.  

Inhofe accused the president of putting his political legacy ahead of national security interests.

"The president's intent to solidify his legacy on closing Guantanamo Bay is putting politics ahead of the security of our service members, the American people, and our nation," said Inhofe. 

Human rights groups, however, applauded the transfers.  

“Repatriating these detainees marks important progress as the Obama Administration works to bring the number of Guantanamo detainees down to zero,” said Human Rights First's Daphne Eviatar in a statement Saturday.  

President Obama said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," that he is determined to close the detention facility.

A few Republicans, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHeatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change Overnight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West MORE (R-Ariz.), support closing the facility for suspected terrorists that is often associated with the CIA's harsh interrogation programs during the Bush administration.

However, most Republicans, including Inhofe and Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Lobbying world MORE (R-N.H.), remain staunchly opposed to releasing detainees, while the nation is still fighting terrorists. 

The detention facility currently holds 132 detainees. Sixty-four of those have been cleared for release but need suitable host-nations to accept them.

Some detainees, including suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, are being prosecuted at Guantánamo by the military for terrorism-related charges. 

Inhofe said there has been 104 confirmed and 74 suspected cases where former detainees have returned to the fight. 

"It is in our nation’s best interest not to increase risk by releasing more terrorists when our nation is involved in two wars," he said.