House lawmakers return from Gitmo inspection

Eight House members returned Tuesday night from day-long inspection of the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The delegation observed detention operations, received an intelligence overview and toured specific areas of the detention facility, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who participated in the trip, said in a statement. 

The trip also included meetings with the commander and deputy commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and other personnel at the facility, she said.

The group – led by House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations subcommittee chairwoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) – included Reps. Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), Tom MacArthuer (R-N.J.) and Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), all of whom sit on the Armed Services panel.

The delegation also included Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn), who site of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The visit was disclosed earlier this month during an Oversight and Investigations subpanel hearing.

President Obama has accelerated his efforts to close the controversial prison in a bid to fulfill a campaign pledge he made in 2008. Transfers from the camp have reduced the population at Guantanamo to 122 prisoners.

The effort has not escaped the notice of congressional Republicans, who argue that closing the detention center won’t deter terrorists from attacking the U.S. or its allies.

"With President Obama renewing his push to release the remaining terrorists and close Guantanamo, today was an opportunity for my colleagues and I to sit down with leaders and the administration to debate and discuss their future,” according to Walorski.

“In order to protect our national security, we must stop releasing some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, especially given the risk that they could re-engage in hostilities against the U.S.,” she added.