Cory Fritz

On Saturday afternoon, the administration released nine detainees from the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia.

VOA reports the move “came just weeks after President Barack Obama announced an accelerated plan to try to shutter the prison before he leaves office in January 2017.”  And it follows the April 4th release of two Al Qaeda bomb makers, one of which “fought coalition forces at Usama bin Laden’s Tora Bora complex in Afghanistan,” according to FOX News.

In all, the Obama administration is expected to push to release an additional 26 detainees before the end of summer.  This mad rush comes despite the fact that:

  • Nearly 30 percent of former detainees return to the terrorist battlefield.  According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s latest report, 30.2 percent of former detainees are either confirmed or suspected to have returned to terrorism.  Notably, one detainee freed in 2012 has emerged publicly in a “key position” for Al-Qaeda in east Africa.  Another former detainee, who was reportedly trained in explosives and working as part of an ISIS recruiting cell, was arrested by Spanish and Moroccan authorities in February.
  • Released detainees have killed Americans.  In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month, the Obama administration openly admitted terrorists released from the Guantanamo Bay prison have killed Americans.   “What I can tell you is, unfortunately, there have been Americans that have died,” the Pentagon’s special envoy for Guantanamo detention closure said.

Currently, in an effort to limit public scrutiny, the administration only releases information about upcoming releases in classified documents.  This needs to change.

That’s why Chairman Royce has introduced legislation, the Terrorist Release Transparency Act (H.R. 4850), to ensure the American people, and our foreign partners, have critical details about detainee transfers.  Royce’s legislation would require the administration, in advance of each release, to publicly post details including:

  • The name, country of origin, and country of destination of the individual being transferred;
  • The number of individuals detained at Guantanamo previously transferred to that country, and;
  • The number of individuals who have reengaged in terrorist activity after being transferred to that country.

If the White House truly believed its race to empty out the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay was good for America’s national security, it could be taking these steps on its own – right now.  Instead, it’s pushing an incomplete and illegal plan to bring some terrorists to U.S. soil while releasing others to foreign countries.  Once again, Congress needs to step in.