Pentagon releases report detailing Gitmo detainees' backgrounds

Pentagon releases report detailing Gitmo detainees' backgrounds
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After months of wrangling, the Pentagon has given Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (R-N.H.) a 33-page report on more than 100 Guantánamo Bay detainees.

The unclassified report is based on available public information such as the detainee profiles written for Guantánamo's parole-like review board and posted on its website, but this is the first time the data has been compiled in one document.

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Ayotte, who released the report publicly Wednesday after first providing it to The Associated Press, said it shows why the detention facility must remain open.

“The Obama administration promised transparency, but this new report shows why they’ve been so reluctant to uphold that promise when it comes to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” she said in a written statement.

“The more Americans understand about the terrorist activities and affiliations of these detainees, the more they will oppose the administration’s terribly misguided plans to release them.”

Ayotte, who’s been a staunch opponent of closing the facility, has pushed the Pentagon for months to comply with a requirement in last year’s defense policy bill that it submit a report to Congress on the detainees. The report was due to Congress in January.

Ayotte placed a hold on the nominee to be the Pentagon's general counsel over the late report. It was initially delivered in April, according to Ayotte’s press release, but much of the information was classified. Ayotte continued to push for an unclassified report and released her hold after receiving it, the release says.

The report provides as little as a sentence or as much as a paragraph of information on 107 detainees who were at Guantánamo as of Nov. 25. Some of the detainees in the report have recently been released.

For example, on Muhammadi Davlatov, one of the most recent transfers out of the facility, the report says: “Davlatov is reported to have attended a poisons class in Afghanistan in 2001. He was captured with handwritten notebooks on creating explosives and poisons and information about communications and leadership in a counterintelligence unit.”

Another recent transfer, Abdul Rahman Ahmed, “probably exaggerated his involvement in and knowledge of terrorist activities and likely did not play a senior role in terrorist activities,” the report says.

By contrast, the report provides a paragraph detailing the attempt to get into the United States by Mohammad Mani Ahmad al-Qahtani, who was recently denied transfer by Guantánamo's review board. Al-Qahtani is believed to have been selected to be a Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker before an immigration officer at the Orlando, Fla., airport denied him entry into the country.

“He probably understood that he was intended to be used as part of a suicide operation, but he was probably unaware of the specifics of the attack,” the report says of al-Qahtani. “Following the onset of coalition bombing in Afghanistan, al-Qahtani fled to the mountains of Tora Bora and briefly rejoined [Osama] bin Laden and his bodyguards before being captured.”

Right now, there are 76 detainees at Guantánamo, and 34 of them are cleared for transfer.

In releasing the report, Ayotte’s press release called it “watered down,” but said it provides the public with consolidated information on those recently released or planned to be released from the facility.

“Most of the detainees who remain at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst, as demonstrated by the fact that 93 percent of the detainees who remained there as of late last year had been assessed as a high risk for a return to terrorism,” Ayotte said.

“This report demonstrates once again why we need a common sense law of war detention policy — focused on the security of Americans and nothing else — that keeps terrorists off the battlefield and gathers the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks.”

The possibility of those who are released re-engaging in terrorism has long been a point of contention between the Obama administration and Republicans.

Opponents of Obama’s plan point to a 30 percent recidivism rate that represents detainees released by both Obama and President George W. Bush who are confirmed or suspected of returning to battle. 

Administration officials, meanwhile, highlight that 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.