Lawmakers Push Obama to Disclose Details of Guantanamo Transfers

Bill would ensure transparency on plans to move terrorist suspects
In this photo reviewed by the U.S. military, the sun rises above Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base / AP

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A Republican senator on Thursday introduced legislation that would require the Obama administration to give Congress and the public more information about suspected terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay that it plans to transfer to foreign countries.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, introduced a bill Thursday that would require the State Department to give Congress an unclassified notice containing specific information about each Guantanamo Bay detainee that is planned for transfer to a foreign country. The legislation would ensure that the Obama administration be more transparent about its plans to release terrorist detainees to other countries, Johnson said.

“The American people deserve to know when and where President Obama plans to transfer detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The information should be public, not hidden by unnecessary classification,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Many of the former Guantanamo detainees transferred to foreign countries have gone on to re-engage in terrorism, or are believed to have done so. The threat posed by the terrorists held at the Guantanamo facility must be addressed seriously and transparently.”

It was revealed late last year that a Guantanamo detainee released by the Obama administration to Sudan in 2012, Ibrahim al-Qosi, has gone on to become a senior leader of the al Qaeda branch in Yemen.

Johnson introduced the bill just days after Obama unveiled his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, which would involve transferring some of the remaining 91 detainees to foreign countries. Between 30 and 60 prisoners assessed as too dangerous for release would be moved to stateside detention facilities, though current law bars such transfers.

Obama has been accelerating his effort to zero out the Guantanamo prison population. The Pentagon has transferred a number of detainees to foreign countries this year, including an admitted member of al Qaeda who developed explosives for the terror group. Details about the transferred prisoners have been released after they have been moved.

In the unclassified notice mandated by Johnson’s bill, Secretary of State John Kerry would need to disclose the name, home country, and country of destination of the detainee who has been approved for transfer. It would also need to specify the count of past Guantanamo detainees that have been sent to the destination country and the number of those prisoners that are either suspected or known to have resumed terrorist activity following their release.

If passed, the legislation would also mandate that the State Department inform Congress why the particular destination country was chosen and which additional countries are also being considered for transfers.

The Senate bill, called the Terrorist Release Transparency Act, is a companion to legislation introduced in the House earlier this week by Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Morgan Chalfant   Email Morgan | Full Bio | RSS
Morgan Chalfant is a reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Morgan worked as a staff writer at Red Alert Politics. She also served as the year-long Collegiate Network fellow on the editorial page at USA TODAY from 2013-14. Morgan graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a B.A. in English and Mathematics. Her Twitter handle is @mchalfant16.

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