Nearly lost amidst the turmoil over President Obama’s historic unilateral action on immigration Thursday was yet another act of defiance by the administration. Despite requests from Republicans to stop any further transfers of Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees, the administration signaled Thursday that they would release four al Qaeda fighters from Yemen, including a “senior figure” in the organization, and one extremist from Tunisia.
These most recent transfers come in spite of reports of previously released detainees joining the Islamic State and increased pressure from Republicans to stop what they deem to be potentially dangerous to U.S. interests.
In a written response issued Thursday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman and vocal critic of the administration Buck McKeon (R-CA) called the administration’s actions “dangerous” and “reckless” and said that he has contacted Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel to express his frustration over “a new swell of recidivism”:
“As long as detainees are rejoining the battlefield, these transfers must stop.
“I have written to Secretary Hagel expressing my frustration and great concern over a new swell of recidivism. If just one U.S. soldier loses their life over these transfers, we will have failed in our duty to the American people.
“What the Obama Administration is doing is dangerous and, frankly, reckless. They have chosen many times to put politics above national security. It’s time they stop playing with fire and start doing what’s right. Until we can assure the terrorists stay off the battlefield, they must stay behind bars."
McKeon had written Hagel in late October requesting that the administration stop transfers. In a Nov. 13 committee hearing, McKeon confronted Hagel on the issue. Clearly his efforts did not deter the administration's plans to chip away at the number of Gitmo detainees. The transfers leave 143 detainees in the facility the president once vowed to close.