You are not connected. Please login or register

View previous topic View next topic Go down  Message [Page 1 of 1]


Senate Dems Pull $80 Million in Gitmo Closure Funding, Oppose Transfer of Detainees to U.S.
Senate Democrats have decided to pull $80 million from the $91 billion war spending request -- money President Obama had requested to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by Jan. 22, 2010.
By Trish Turner

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Senate Democrats threw cold water on President Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center Tuesday, pulling money for the closure from a $91 billion war spending request and publicly opposing the transfer of any detainees to U.S. soil.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats not only oppose the release of detainees into the United States but also oppose the transfer of detainees to U.S. prisons.

"We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States," he said, adding: "Part of what we don't want is for them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don't want them around in the United States."

On top of that, Senate Democrats decided to pull $80 million from the war spending request -- money Obama had requested to close the detention facility by Jan. 22, 2010.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley later walked back part of Reid's statement.

"He's not going to do anything until we get a plan from the president." Manley said. He said "the leader is leaving the door open to detainees being transferred to American prisons, should the administration put forward a plan to do so."

Reid's comments nevertheless revealed how uneasy Democrats are with the yet-to-be released details for a closure plan. When asked about the change in tone, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide said, "Members of the caucus were sick of getting walloped by Republicans over this phony, made-up issue."

Democrats, according to the aide, "had been looking for signals from the White House to provide some cover on the issue, and it didn't come."

Senate Democratic leaders made the decision last night, according to Manley, to strike the $80 million from the war spending bill after a discussion with the White House.

"They did not object," Manley said of White House officials.

Democratic leaders informed the White House that they would withhold funds for closing Guantanamo until the administration presents a detailed plan for its closure.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said he will present an amendment this week that will "prohibit all funds in the supplemental and all future funds" for the closure of Gitmo until the White House presents the plan.

The current bill Inouye crafted in his committee gives the Department of Justice $30 million for its part, including funds for investigating Bush-era interrogation policy, and fences off the remaining $50 million for the Pentagon pending a plan.

The House withholds all funding in its version of the supplemental bill.

Senate Republicans, feeling they had gained the upper hand on Democrats in recent weeks as they railed against closing the facility and moving detainees to the U.S., said they still intend to offer amendments related to the closure.

One amendment would, using funding restraints, have the effect of banning all detainees from the United States.

Another joint amendment by Sens. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would have the same effect. It would say all detainees who are non-U.S. citizens cannot be placed on U.S. soil, but instead would be placed in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security until which time they can be extradited.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he thinks the Obama administration has "paid a price" for setting a date certain. During the presidential campaign, McCain noted that he, too, supported closing Gitmo, but he said a plan needs to be in place before anything happens.

The issue was to be the central fight on the war spending bill, as rarely-unified Republicans attempt to capitalize further on what they see as a popular issue with the American people, keeping the remaining detainees from placing a foot on American soil.

Congressional Democrats, lacking clarity from the Obama administration, had been at odds over how to move forward.

Last week the House passed legislation requiring the details of such a plan by Oct. 1. .

A vote would have been exceedingly difficult for Democrats, illustrated by the about-face this weekend by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Webb, a former Navy secretary, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that while he praised the president's timeline back in January, he had studied the issue with his staff and changed his mind. The senator also lauded the detention center's unique set up, its isolated location thwarting listening devices and its secure courtrooms for sensitive military commissions.

"We shouldn't be creating artificial timelines," Webb said.

Gitmo should be closed eventually, he added, but only after all of its inmates are processed, a problem because some prisoners of war are expected to be held indefinitely. Webb also stipulated that no prisoners should be brought to the United States.

This issue is not new to the Senate or to some members of Obama's administration.

As senators in July 2007, now-Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voted to block detainees from being placed on U.S. soil.

The amendment to a college funding bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has given 14 Senate floor speeches already this year on the topic, stated, "It is safer for American citizens if captured members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are not housed on American soil where they could more easily carry out their mission to kill innocent civilians."

The nonbinding amendment went on to say that "detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including senior members of Al Qaeda, should not be released into American society, nor should they be transferred stateside into facilities in American communities and neighborhoods."

Then-Sen. Obama was not present for the vote.

On Monday, McConnell asked, "What's changed?"

"America is still at war against terror networks around the world. The detainees held at Guantanamo are still some of the most dangerous terrorists alive -- indeed, over the past two years, the inmates there have been winnowed down to an even higher percentage of committed killers than before. And Americans still don't want these men in their neighborhoods."

Indeed, in a new FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll, just over half of Americans, 55 percent, oppose transferring detainees to prison facilities in the United States. But they are divided on whether bringing the detainees to the United States will put the country at risk. While some 43 percent think transferring the detainees to U.S. prison facilities would make the country less safe, about the same number -- 45 percent -- think it would not make much of a difference. Few -- 8 percent -- think it would make the United States safer.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was one of few in his party to challenge the argument publicly. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has taken a wait-and-see approach. Reid had said previohe is waiting for the outcome of a commission study due out in July.

Echoing the words of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a case in which the Bush administration's detention policies were rebuffed, Durbin said, "A state of war is not a blank check for the president."

Durbin noted that no Republican objected when the previous administration announced it was closing Gitmo, and said, "Guantanamo became an international embarrassment for the United States and, sadly, tragically, a recruiting tool for terrorists like Al Qaeda."

Some Republicans agree.

"Guantanamo is a serious blot on our reputation," former Secretary of State James Baker, a widely respected diplomat and member of the George H.W. Bush administration, has said..

This perception argument has split some in the Republican Party. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who just returned from Gitmo, praised the facility but acknowledged the "perception problem" overseas, and said the facility should be closed though not by a date certain.

Still, others, like McConnell and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who has traveled to the island facility three times, have said there's no better place than Guantanamo for the prisoners and it should remain in service.

"I can't imagine what would happen if they close this place," Inhofe said in a video posted on YouTube during his February visit to the prison. "If they close this place, then you're going to have to find other places. They've identified 17 other places, including my home state of Oklahoma. That would be a terrible risk to us and to all of Oklahoma, and the same would be true of any and all other states."

Webb, on Sunday, appeared to hold out hope that Obama would relax his stand, as he has done on a number of other issues

"They've said a lot of things and taken a look and said some other things. So let's process these people in a very careful way and then take care of it," he said.

Other Amendments

Other amendments to the supplemental are expected to cause some heartburn, though not nearly with the force of the Guantanamo amendment.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a member of leadership, had planned to offer an amendment to strip out the $30 million portion of the Guantanamo funding, as he awaits an answer from Attorney General Eric Holder as to what went on during his time in the Clinton administration when rendition and interrogations took place. Holder could not recall the details of the policy at a hearing last week.

Lieberman and Graham also intended to offer an amendment related to detainee abuse photos being released to the public, something the Obama administration recently halted pending a fight in the courts. The senators had few details last week, noting it was a delicate balance between the public's right to know and putting U.S. troops overseas at risk.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., was expected to go after money for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The administration has sought $100 billion in borrowing authority for the IMF, with the projected taxpayer risk from nonpayment projected to be $5 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

DeMint, with the support of mostly Republicans, will try to strip out this money, though a senior Senate Republican leadership aide said the amendment will likely fail.

A vote on the final war spending bill, with whatever changes might come related to Guantanamo, comes at a delicate time for the Obama administration.

The president is set to give what the White House has called a major speech to the Muslim World in Egypt in less than three weeks. That is nearly exactly the time the Congress will vote on final passage of the legislation.


again fox news, and republicans,fair an balanced and accurate??? I think the scum (terrorists) would not last in our prisons~,there will have to be a place to put them~ if they are guilty put them to death~ simple~


on second thought, if git mo remains open, which is fine with me` keep the prisoners there, how much money are we looking at to keep it open? and feed clothe the scum??


I vote to shoot them all in the head and get it over with. Expense is probably no more than the funding of honey-bee study and the grape study and oh yess the hog odor study..all three necessary programs at tax payer expense.


I retract my post on Republicans ,I think the post SSC put, does touch on what a problem it is,and what to do with the detainees~ I read it closer.instead of skimming~


SSC wrote:I vote to shoot them all in the head and get it over with. Expense is probably no more than the funding of honey-bee study and the grape study and oh yess the hog odor study..all three necessary programs at tax payer expense.
that to me would be the easiest,if they are all guilty~

well i don;t like hog odor~ so i might agree with that~~

honey bees very interesting, and beneficial to our farming, and fruits, pollination u know~


Hope you benefit from those studies if you pay taxes you are paying for them.


I don't object to my paying taxes,Which I do~ that was a condescending remark,(if i do??)you made.. LOL as long as the rich pay their fair share..

good results have come from small studies ,like hog odor (muttley snicker)
honey bee studies are good because they have diminished lately(honeybees) that is~ and why ,is good to know~I love Grapes they fight cancer they are antioxidants!!

rosco 357

i want a study on carpenter bees, u know the big bumble type bee that is boring holes in my new deck, i use to think they left treated lumber alone, but nope, i have sprayed and sprayed, the deck and in the hole, for the first time out of 2 holes some larve came out, i put a long plastic, nozzle like on wd-40 u know, on some brake cleaner,and stuck it up in the hole and sprayed it, the last couple days i havent seen any new saw dust from them,


Wow! did we have problems with those bees ,last summer,there was poop/and holes all over the doors and windows, we finally called an exterminator~~ Good bye wood bees/carpenter bees~


How much does it cost us, the taxpayer to keep a prisoner, here?
some have been on death row forever~~

rosco 357

gypsy wrote:How much does it cost us, the taxpayer to keep a prisoner, here?
some have been on death row forever~~

thats the law, i agree it should be shorter, but some ppl have been in prison for many years especially rape some years back when dna became into use, and are now free, because dna showed they were not guilty,, but it would take a major change in the law to stop appeals . not that i like it to take so long but i see no end, i would imagine, a law could be passed, but probably be struck down buy the supreme court..


If the bleeding heart crowd would not object so much , the process could be speeded along..But it is my understanding each one on death row has 8 appeals which drag on for years. Total waste of money and space. It is good to know Obama is putting into place new rules on illegals in our jails, the new screening plan with weed them out and deport them, saving the US countless dollars in feeding them.


I agree~ good for Obama

15 A Great Taxpayer Expense on Wed May 20, 2009 7:56 pm


NIH Spends $178,000 to Study Why Prostitutes in Thailand Have High HIV Risk
The National Institutes of Health is funding a study to investigate the personal and cultural pressures on female and transgender prostitutes in Thailand, a study that began on April 15, Tax Day.
By Joseph Abrams

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The federal government is spending $178,000 to better understand why drug-abusing prostitutes in Thailand are at greater risk for HIV infection, an endeavor taxpayer watchdogs are calling a huge waste of American taxpayers' money.

The National Institutes of Health study, "Substance Use and HIV Risk among Thai Women," is looking at the interplay of personal and cultural factors that put Thai prostitutes at special risk.

But women aren't its only target. The two-year project, made possible by a grant from the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, is also studying kathoey, the transgender prostitutes who are widely accepted in Thailand because of the "karmic idea in Buddhism," and who have especially high HIV infection rates, according to the study's abstract.

Researchers plan to interview 60 sex workers -- 36 women and 24 kathoey -- to understand the factors that make the prostitutes susceptible to HIV, including economic pressure, sex-change operations, their heavy use of drugs and a Buddhist fatalism that keeps them feeling resigned to their fate.

The NIH funds many studies that focus on HIV risk and prevention in hopes that it can lay the vital groundwork for developing treatment and intervention plans to thwart the deadly AIDS virus.

But government watchdogs are having a hard time understanding why American tax dollars should go to study the sexual habits of prostitutes halfway around the world.

"This really is a complete waste of money and should not be funded by the taxpayer," said David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, which tracks wasteful spending in the federal budget.

Williams lauded the NIH for funding life-saving research in many areas, but he said this study goes way beyond the pale. The project began April 15 -- Tax Day in the U.S. -- which the government waste watcher found especially galling.

"It really boggles the mind to think that this is what NIH is studying," Williams told

Attempts to reach the study's director by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful, and the NIH did not respond to requests for comment.

Among the specific aims of the study are to "understand substance use and HIV risk behaviors among female and kathoey sex workers" and to help pave the way for new HIV prevention studies in Thailand, a nation of 66 million that has a relatively high rate of HIV infection. The United Nations estimates that nearly 1 percent of Thailand's population is infected with the virus -- nearly three times the rate in the U.S.

The new program is one of a slew of efforts by the NIH to combat the virus, which has been fast spreading in East Asia, where it is passed on primarily through unprotected sex.

The NIH spends $29 billion each year to help fund thousands of health studies, including many overseas initiatives. Among those projects are a $400,000 study being conducted in bars in Buenos Aires to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior while drunk, and a $2.6 million study dedicated to teaching prostitutes in China to drink less while having sex on the job.

While some active NIH projects -- such as studies of suicide patterns among young men and women in China -- have a clearer relevance for communities living in the U.S., the utility of this study for U.S. citizens is not as clear-cut.

The abstract indicates that it is intended to create prevention models specifically tailored to the "sociocultural factors specific to female and kathoey sex workers" in Thailand.

"We don't have an infinite number of tax dollars to work with here, and the ones that we do pay should go to benefit the research in this country," said Williams, who faulted the government for piling on programs during an economic crisis.

"The first thing to really look at is how it is going to directly impact the citizens of this country, because we are the ones paying for this research."


Democrats on Capitol Hill Rebel Against President Obama's Guantanamo Bay Plan
Lawmakers Reject Funding to Shut Down Detainee Center at Gitmo, Want Obama to Present a Plan
May 20, 2009—

The U.S. Senate today voted overwhelmingly to block funding to shut down the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dealing another blow to one of President Obama's signature national security issues.

In a 90-6 vote, the Senate followed in the footsteps of the House of Representatives and passed an amendment deleting $80 million in funds from a war funding bill earmarked to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Republicans have been raising alarm bells for weeks about the prospect of Obama's planned Guantanamo closure.

Where will the detainees go, they've asked over and over. Will they be tried in the United States? And will former detainees, if cleared of the charges against them, be walking the U.S. streets?

Democrats have answered by rejecting Obama's request for money to start the base closure.

"Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president. We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," declared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at a press conference Tuesday after meeting with other Democratic senators.

Obama had requested the $80 million from the $91 billion war funding bill as part of his promise to close the Guantanamo base by January 2010.

If he wants to meet his January pledge, the president will now have to ask for the money later this year.

Detainees in Legal Limbo
There are 240 detainees currently housed at Guantanamo Bay. Of those, 80 are awaiting trial, two have been released in Europe in recent months, and 130 are in some sort of legal limbo.

In passnig the amendment to remove the $80 million from the war funding bill needed to close the base, the Senate communicated that Obama must first present a plan for how he plans to close the detainee center and what he plans to do with the detainees housed there.

"The U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans don't want terrorists released in the United States," said Reid, although he maintains, as does Obama, that closing Guantanamo Bay is the right thing to do.

Reid became exasperated with reporters when pressed to connect the dots between closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and not bringing detainees to U.S. shores.

"If terrorists are released in the United States, part of what we don't want is for them be put in prisons in the United States. We don't want them around the United States," Reid said.

Republican Furor Over Gitmo Closure
Reid's words mirror the talking points of Republicans, particularly Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has pressured Democrats for weeks on Guantanamo Bay. But while Reid ultimately wants to see the base closed, Republicans like McConnell see it as the perfect place to keep suspected terror detainees, many of whom have now been housed in Cuba for seven years.

"In my view, these men are exactly where they belong: locked up in a safe and secure prison, and isolated many miles away from the American people," McConnell said on the Senate floor today. "Guantanamo is a secure. state-of-the-art facility. It's got courtrooms for military commissions. Everyone who visits is impressed with it. Even the administration acknowledges that Guantanamo is humane and well-run. Americans want these men kept out of their backyards and off the battlefield. Guantanamo guarantees it."

FBI Director Robert Mueller fueled the concerns sparked by Republicans.

In testimony before a House panel today, Mueller said he could not get into specific discussions about releasing Guantanamo detainees into the United States, but he told the panel, "The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others. ... All of those are concerns."

Mueller used an analogy with gangs that pose threats in U.S. prisons and are able to recruit from within the prisons, saying, "There are individuals in our prisons today who operate gangs inside our prisons."

Two Other Measures Up for a Vote
The Senate will also consider two Republican amendments with more far-reaching consequences.

First is a proposal by McConnell that would require a threat assessment on any detainee before he is released from Guantanamo Bay or moved anywhere, not just the United States. The assessment would address the prospects for recidivism -- whether the detainee would return to the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Second is a proposal from Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe that would explicitly ban the administration from using any money in this bill, or past bills, to move Gitmo detainees to the United States.

Both of these measures stand a good chance of passing and, therefore, putting the Senate on record in opposition an issue that tops Obama's national security agenda.

Obama Reinstates Military Tribunals
President Obama seemed to answer some of the concern among his party members about the detainees when he announced last week that he would re-instate a system of military tribunals originally enacted by President Bush to try detainees by a military court.

While Obama promised to retool the tribunals and account for more rights for the detainees undergoing trial, many civil libertarians criticized the move.

Lately, some of the loudest voices against moving detainees to the United States have been Democrats. Virginia Sen. Jim Webb -- whose state would likely host detainees if they were to be tried in the American criminal justice system instead of on Cuba -- said Sunday on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" that he would not support bringing detainees stateside.

"I think Guantanamo has become the great Rorschach test of how we feel about international terrorism. We should at the right time close Guantanamo, but I don't think that it should be closed in terms of transferring people here," he said.

Other Democrats have stuck up for Obama and argue that the American prison and judicial systems are more than capable of handling detainees. International terrorists like Zacharias Moussoaui, the so-called 20th hijacker of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, along with people convicted of the 1993 attacks are in U.S. prisons already.

"If we can safely hold these individuals, I believe we can safely hold any Guantanamo detainees who need to be held," said Durbin on the Senate floor. "I should note, no prisoner has ever escaped in the United States, period. Republicans also claim the administration wants to release terrorists in our communities, some kind of work release, walking around situation for terrorists. What an incredible charge, and patently false. President Obama has made clear that Guantanamo will be closed in a manner consistent with our national security."

17 FBI director concerned about Gitmo releases on Wed May 20, 2009 9:21 pm


FBI director concerned about Gitmo releases
By DEVLIN BARRETT – 52 minutes ago Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States could pose a number of risks, even if they were kept in maximum-security prisons. Responding to FBI concerns, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would not put Americans at risk.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller faced repeated questions about the prospect of transferring to the United States some of the 240 inmates currently held at the naval base in Cuba.

President Barack Obama has ordered the Guantanamo Bay detention center closed by January 2010, but that timetable may be in jeopardy. As Mueller testified, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to block funding for bringing detainees to the U.S., whether freed or imprisoned.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon was preparing to release a long-awaited report detailing the number of Guantanamo detainees who had either returned to the battlefield or were suspected of returning after being released from the prison.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the report, which was completed in late 2008, would mirror data released in January showing that 18 detainees had rejoined the fight. An additional 43 were suspected of returning to battle, the Pentagon said then, although it did not release any evidence or intelligence supporting its data.

The New York Times reported on its Web site Wednesday that an updated, and still-undisclosed Pentagon tally shows 74 detainees have returned to the fight. The newspaper did not break down the number by detainees who were confirmed and suspected of rejoining the battle.

Whitman would not confirm the 74 number Wednesday night, and the updated data was not immediately available.

"Even in our most careful assessments and decisions to transfer or release detainees, we know that some return to the fight," Whitman said.

At the start of Wednesday's hearing, Mueller was asked what concerns the FBI has about the release of Guantanamo detainees.

"The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others," Mueller said, as well as "the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States."

"All of those are relevant concerns," Mueller said.

The FBI chief said he would not discuss specific individuals. He said there were also potential risks to putting detainees in maximum security prisons.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose district includes the World Trade Center site, then prodded Mueller to agree that such individuals could be safely kept in maximum security prisons in the United States.

Mueller balked at Nadler's suggestion, noting that in some instances imprisoned gang leaders have run their operations from inside prisons.

"It depends on the circumstances," Mueller said.

Asked about Mueller's comments, Attorney General Eric Holder said the government won't do anything with detainees "that's going to put the American people at risk."

"The concerns that have been expressed by the director, concerns expressed by other people, will all be taken into account," Holder said, adding that the administration is still working on the closure plan and he still believes they can meet the president's deadline in eight months.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to respond directly to Mueller.

"The president hasn't decided where some of the detainees will be transferred. Those are decisions that the task forces are working on and that the president will lay out and discuss tomorrow," Gibbs told reporters.

Republicans have been criticizing Obama on the issue, and even fellow Democrats say they need to see a plan for closing Guantanamo before they can support the White House.

Republicans urged Mueller to take the FBI's concerns to the White House.

"No good purpose is served by allowing known terrorists, who trained at terrorist training camps, to come to the U.S. and live among us," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the senior Republican on the committee. "Guantanamo Bay was never meant to be an Ellis Island."

Mueller was also asked if he had a solution for what to do with the detainees.

"I don't," Mueller answered. "It's a very difficult issue and people are honestly wrestling with what the best resolution is."

18 Many detainees rejoin fight, report finds on Wed May 20, 2009 11:37 pm


NYT: Many detainees rejoin fight, report finds
Findings could aid those seeking to keep Gitmo prisoners from U.S.
By Elisabeth Bumiller
The New York Times
updated 7:45 p.m. CT, Wed., May 20, 2009
WASHINGTON - An unreleased Pentagon report provides new details concluding that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.

The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against releasing any more prisoners as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January 2010. Past Pentagon reports on Guantánamo recidivism, however, have been met with skepticism from civil liberties groups and criticized for their lack of detail.

The Pentagon promised in January that the latest report would be released soon, but Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week that the findings were still “under review.”

Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the report was being held up by Defense Department employees fearful of upsetting the White House, at a time when even Congressional Democrats have begun to show misgivings over Mr. Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo.

Obama to give speech Thursday
The White House has said that Mr. Obama will provide further details about his plans for closing the prison there in a speech Thursday morning at the National Archives.

Pentagon officials said there had been no pressure from the White House to suppress the report, and said they believed that the Defense Department employees, some of them holdovers from the Bush administration, were acting pre-emptively to protect their jobs.

The report is the subject of numerous Freedom of Information Act requests from news media organizations, and Mr. Whitman said that he expected it to be released shortly. The report, a copy of which was made available to The New York Times, says the Pentagon believes that 74 prisoners released from Guantánamo have returned to terrorism, making for a recidivism rate of nearly 14 percent.

The report was made available by an administration official sympathetic to its findings who said the delay was creating unnecessary “conspiracy theories” about the holdup.

A Defense Department official said there was little will inside the Pentagon to release the report because it had become politically radioactive under Mr. Obama.

“If we hold it, then everybody claims it’s political and you’re protecting the Obama administration,” said the official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. “And if we let it go, then everybody says you’re undermining Obama.”

Previous assertions criticized
Previous assertions by the Pentagon that substantial numbers of former Guantánamo prisoners had returned to terrorism were harshly criticized by civil liberties and human rights groups who said the information was too vague to be credible and amounted to propaganda in favor of keeping the prison open. The Pentagon began making these assertions in 2007 but stopped earlier this year, shortly before Mr. Obama took office. In recent days, the Pentagon has run into rising objections in Congress to closing the prison, particularly from Senator Harry Reid of Arizona, the Democratic majority leader, who said recently that Guantánamo detainees would “never” be released in the United States.

On Wednesday, Michele A. Flournoy, the under secretary of defense for policy, reminded reporters that many of these now expressing reservations about the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo had also called for the closing it.

“I think there will be some that need to end up in the United States,” she said.

Among the 74 former prisoners that the report says are again engaged in terrorism, 29 have been identified by name by the Pentagon, including 16 named for the first time in the report. The Pentagon has said that the remaining 45 could not be named because of national security and intelligence-gathering concerns.

Two ex-Gitmo prisoners return to fight
In the report, the Pentagon confirmed that two former Guantánamo prisoners whose terrorist activities had been previously reported had indeed returned to the fight. They are Said Ali al-Shihri, a leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch suspected in a deadly bombing of the United States embassy in Sana, Yemen’s capital, last year, and Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, an Afghan Taliban commander, who also goes by the name Mullah Abdullah Zakir.

The Pentagon has so far provided no way of authenticating its 45 unnamed recidivists, and only a few of the 29 people who are identified by name can be independently verified as having engaged in terrorism since their release. Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists, with almost no other details provided.

“It’s part of a campaign to win the hearts and minds of history for Guantánamo,” said Mark P. Denbeaux, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law who has represented Guantánamo detainees and co-written three studies highly critical of the Pentagon’s previous recidivism reports. “They want to be able to claim there really were bad people there.”

Mr. Denbeaux acknowledged that some of the named detainees had engaged in verifiable terrorist acts since their release, but he said his research showed that their numbers were small. “We’ve never said there weren’t some people who would return to the fight,” Mr. Denbeaux said. “It seems to be unavoidable. Nothing is perfect.”

Recidivism rate lower than for U.S. prisoners
Terrorism experts said that a 14 percent recidivism rate was far lower than the rate for prisoners in the United States, which, they said, can run as high as 68 percent three years after release. The experts also said that while Americans might have a lower level of tolerance for recidivism among Guantánamo detainees, there was no evidence that any of those released had engaged in elaborate operations like the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“Terrorism is perpetrated by organizations and not individuals,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.

In addition to Mr. Shihri and Mr. Rasoul, at least three others among the 29 named have engaged in verifiable terrorist activity or have threatened terrorist acts.

Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, a Saudi national who was released from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia in November 2007, and who is named on the most recent list of 16, appeared with Mr. Al-Shihri in a video released by Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch in January and reported by news organizations at the time. Like Mr. Shihri, Mr. Awfi passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for jihadists after their release from the prison. The program has been seen as a model, and the Saudi government has previously said that none of its graduates had returned to terrorism.

In the video, Mr. Awfi threatened attacks against Saudi Arabia and spoke angrily about Israeli attacks on Hamas in Gaza.

Another on the list of 29 whose case has been widely reported is Abdullah Salih al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti who was in Guantánamo from 2002 to 2005 and who subsequently carried out a suicide bomb attack in Mosul, Iraq, in 2008. The attack killed several Iraqi soldiers.

Sponsored content

View previous topic View next topic Back to top  Message [Page 1 of 1]

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum