GOP enraged at report that 12 former Gitmo detainees killed Americans

GOP enraged at report that 12 former Gitmo detainees killed Americans
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Republican lawmakers are seething after a report that at least a dozen former Guantanamo Bay detainees have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan that have killed about a half-dozen Americans.

The Washington Post report has enraged critics of President Obama’s plan to close the detention facility who say it proves that the facility should remain open.

“Six Americans would still be alive today if those terrorists had stayed at Guantanamo Bay,” Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games MORE (R-Ark.) said in statement Thursday. “Their deaths should not be in vain. We not should not only keep Guantanamo Bay open, but also send more terrorists there for interrogation.”

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Citing unidentified current and former U.S. officials, the Post reported that all of the detainees suspected of launching attacks that killed Americans were released under President George W. Bush.

The officials declined to give the newspaper the exact number of Americans killed or wounded, as well as the exact number of former detainees involved.

But at least one of the dead is a civilian, a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008, according to the Post.

One official also told the Post that nine of the detainees suspected in the attacks are now dead or in foreign government custody.

“Because many of these incidents were large-scale firefights in a war zone, we cannot always distinguish whether Americans were killed by the former detainees or by others in the same fight,” the official said.

The information in the Post report expands on a revelation earlier this year from the Pentagon’s special envoy for Guantanamo closure.

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“What I can tell you is, unfortunately, there have been Americans that have died because of Gitmo detainees,” Paul Lewis told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March.

The new report also comes as the Senate is considering an annual defense policy bill in which lawmakers hope to lock in provisions that effectively prevent the president from closing Guantanamo.

A slew of amendments to the bill would also expand restrictions on the facility. For example, one from Cotton and Sen. David Purdue (R-Ga.) would require the administration to complete a declassification review of the intelligence on past terrorist activities of detainees.

“The detainees at Guantanamo Bay are hardened terrorists who will stop at nothing to attack the United States,” Cotton said. “Their recidivism isn't related to their time at Guantanamo Bay, it's related to their fundamental opposition to our fundamental belief in freedom. And yesterday's report in the Washington Post is just more reason that Americans deserve to know the history of any terrorist who leaves Guantanamo Bay.”

The recidivism rate of former detainees has been a contentious issue between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers.

Republicans point to a 30 percent figure that represents detainees released by Presidents George W. Bush and Obama who are confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorism.

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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Wis.), who filed an amendment to the defense bill that would require the administration to send Congress an unclassified notice on detainees it plans to transfer, said information on detainees should be public. 

“A recent news report citing U.S. officials who believe at least 12 former Guantanamo Bay detainees launched attacks that resulted in the deaths of about a half-dozen Americans is disturbing,” he said in a written statement. “Even one death is one too many. The American people deserve a government willing to be honest and transparent in the face of the global threat of terrorism.”

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (R-N.H.), another vocal opponent of closing Guantanamo, slammed the administration for a lack of transparency on Guantanamo detainees.

“There appears to be a consistent and concerted effort by the administration to prevent Americans from knowing the truth regarding the terrorist activities and affiliations of past and present Guantanamo detainees," Ayotte wrote in a letter to Obama released Thursday.

"Americans have a right to know how many of our NATO partners and fellow citizens have been killed by former Guantanamo detainees and who killed them, and I reject any suggestion that it would jeopardize intelligence sources or methods to provide an unclassified response to these simple questions."