Overnight Defense: GOP blasts latest Gitmo transfer | Boeing defends Iran Air deal

THE TOPLINE: Republicans are excoriating the Obama administration over the latest prisoner transfer from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, saying it shows the president is putting his political agenda above national security.

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.

"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," he said. 

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 Hill's Rebecca Kheel has the story.

DEM SAYS US-IRAN RELATIONS MAY WORSEN: It could be at least a decade before the nuclear deal with Iran leads the Middle Eastern country to abandon its regional aggression and proactively engage with the rest of the world, a key Democratic senator said Thursday.

Nearly a year after the White House announced the terms of the landmark accord, Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners 15 Saudis identified in disappearance of Washington Post columnist The Senate needs to cool it MORE (D-Del.) warned that it is unlikely to herald better relations any time soon.

In fact, it's likely to get worse, he said.

"Over the next 10 to 20 [years,] I think it is possible," Coons, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said during a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations. "They are an incredibly educated, sophisticated people with a lot of resources and a lot of capabilities.

"But the orientation, the ideology of the current regime in any reasonable prediction of how they're likely to behave in the next couple of years ... I think only suggests a hardening of the position of the regime in the short term."

The Hill's Julian Hattem has more

BOEING ARGUES FOR IRAN AIR DEAL: Boeing on Thursday told two Republican lawmakers that completing a nuclear agreement with Iran hinged on the ability of U.S. and European firms to sell Tehran new passenger planes to replace its aging fleet.

Timothy Keating, senior vice president of government operations at Chicago-based Boeing, told House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) that Congress was well aware that the sale of passenger jetliners was part of the negotiations of the nuclear agreement.

"It was made clear to us in those consultations that the ability to provide Iranian airlines with U.S. and European replacement commercial passenger aircraft for their aging fleets was key and essential to reaching closure on the agreement," Keating responded in a letter.

"The administration reported that this view was shared by our European allies as part of that same negotiation," Keating wrote. "All of this is well-known to your offices as part of the U.S. congressional review of [the nuclear deal] prior to its implementation," he wrote.

A week ago, Hensarling and Roskam sent a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, arguing that U.S. businesses should not take part in "weaponizing" Iran's regime.

The Hill's Vicki Needham has more here


The Atlantic Council hosts an event exploring how the next administration should think about reforming the National Security Council, at 12:00 pm at 1030 15th St. NW. Click here for more information and a webcast.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy hosts a live webcast at 12:30 p.m. on Rethinking the U.S. Military Role in the Middle East. Click here to watch. 



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