Republicans Remain Terrified That President Obama Will Close Gitmo

Ever since President Obama took office in 2009, Republicans have done everything in their power to stop him from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Given his recent successes at repatriating detainees and the looming assistance Pope Francis has offered, they are upping those efforts.

Key Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would effectively block President Barack Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before he leaves office in two years.

The legislation from Sens. Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Richard Burr and Lindsey Graham would prohibit for two years the transfer to the United States of detainees designated medium- or high-risk. It would also ban transfers to Yemen, where dozens of the 127 remaining Guantánamo detainees are from.

Of all the ridiculous arguments they’ve made over the years for keeping the prison open, this one takes the cake.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Ayotte argued the administration’s increased clip of transfers was dangerous because it could allow detainees to re-enter the terrorism fight, citing the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Given that none of those who have been reported to have been involved in the Paris attack had ever even spent a night at Gitmo, this is nothing but absurd fear-mongering.

Besides, here are the facts about the recidivism of Gitmo detainees who have been released from a report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to the report, the percentage of freed detainees “reengaging” during the Bush administration was 19 percent, while another 14.3 percent were “suspected of reengaging.” Since Obama took office, however, just 6.8 percent of detainees are confirmed as reengaging, while just 1.1 percent are suspected of returning to the battlefield.

“Nearly half of the former detainees confirmed of reengaging are either dead or in custody, and more than one-third of the former detainees suspected of re-engaging are either dead or in custody,” the official said.

I have no idea what has Senators Ayotte, McCain, Burr and Graham so terrified. But it looks to me like it mostly has to do with witnessing President Obama succeed on a campaign promise while he protects our national security.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.