False Confidence: Vanished Former GITMO Detainee Exposes Admin Claims
On March 23, State Department Special Envoy for Guantanamo Bay Closure Lee Wolosky assured the public that the Obama administration’s process for releasing GITMO detainees to other countries is rigorous:
We base it on… the capabilities of the government as a whole… and then of course the specific security assurances that have been negotiated and our assessment of whether or not can and will be implemented.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Wolosky went on to stress that one South American country – Uruguay – was fully capable of handling the detainees it accepted in 2014:
[W]e are confident, to your question, that the government of Uruguay is taking appropriate steps to substantially mitigate the risk associated with each of the six detainees that have been transferred to its custody.
The problem? Less than three months after the administration proclaimed its confidence to Congress, one of these dangerous jihadists has fled to Brazil.
And absolutely no one in the administration should be surprised.
That’s because, contrary to the administration’s claims, the process that sent these six hardened al-Qaeda fighters – who had been trained as suicide bombers and engaged in battle near Tora Bora – to Uruguay was deeply flawed from the start.
The administration knew in 2014 that Uruguay was accepting these detainees as “refugees,” not former terrorists. And it knew Uruguayan law prohibits monitoring, surveillance, or imposing travel restrictions on them. In fact, then-President Jose Mujica also publicly assured the world that his government would not impede their travel. Hardly tight security.
Uruguay wasn’t getting the straight story though. While the administration kept details about the transfer hidden from public scrutiny, it told Uruguay that none of these detainees had ever been associated with terrorism.
The administration misled Uruguay, just like it did Americans when it:
- Said detainees could be released safely and securely. (According to the administration’s own figures, one-third of former detainees have returned to terrorism. And at least 12 individuals have gone on to kill Americans.)
- Said GITMO was a “key component” of ISIS and al-Qaeda recruiting. (There’s simply no evidence to suggest this is true.)
- Said it had never knowingly transferred detainees to countries that couldn’t handle them. (As the Uruguay case illustrates, and the administration’s classified materials prove, this is flat-out false.)
In the weeks ahead, the Obama administration is planning to release as many as 26 more detainees. That’s why Chairman Royce – who was first to raise concerns about the Uruguay Six last year – is pressing the administration to halt all transfers and level with the American people. No more deception. No more untruthfulness.
Releasing more dangerous terrorists from the prison at Guantanamo Bay puts American lives at risk.