by Ben Learner
: All thirteen Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have written a letter to President Obama, objecting
to his continued transfer of Guantanamo detainees to other countries, specifically including the August 15th transfer of fifteen detainees to the United Arab Emirates, the largest such transfer to date. The legislators note in their letter that those now being released or considered for release from the facility are especially high-risk:"As you continue to draw down the prisoner population at Guantanamo Bay, you are releasing increasingly dangerous terrorists who are more closely linked to al-Qa'ida and attacks against the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. This largest-ever release includes several who trained in al-Qa'ida training camps, were bodyguards for Usama bin Laden, and fought at Tora Bora. They were non-compliant with their interrogators and hostile towards the Joint Task Force Guantanamo guards."
Regarding the process that led to the transfer, The Hill.com reports
:"Six of the 15 transfers were unanimously approved by the six agencies that make up the Periodic Review Board, according to the Defense Department. The remaining nine were approved after the board determined none of the detainees pose a continuing ‘significant threat' to U.S. security."
It's worth noting that almost exactly one year ago, it was reported that fifty intelligence analysts operating out of CENTCOM had filed a complaint
alleging that their assessments of ISIS and al-Nusra (al Qaeda's branch in Syria) were being altered by their superiors to suggest that those groups were weaker than what the analysts had concluded. The purpose of such alleged manipulation: to fit the Obama administration's public narrative we had ISIS and al-Nusra on the ropes. Almost a year later, two congressional reports have recently confirmed
that this intel was indeed systematically "cooked".
Given what we now know unfolded at CENTCOM, and given President Obama's investment in the narrative that Guantanamo is a terrorist-recruiting, values-betraying, funds-depleting mistake that must be shuttered, one has to ask: Is it possible that the Periodic Review Board, and/or those informing its assessments, are being subjected to pressure, unspoken or otherwise, to reinforce the Obama narrative on Guantanamo by downplaying the risks posed by transferring detainees held there?
Congress should be asking the same thing.
Ben Lerner is the Vice President for Government Relations at the Center for Security Policy, where he manages the Center's educational efforts and interactions with the federal government.
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