Attorney General Loretta Lynch wouldn’t say Tuesday if moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. cities would make those cities a target for terrorist groups.
"Would it be reasonable to conclude that if you took terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and located them in a city that it could very well enhance that city’s being on one of these targeted lists?" Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.) said at an oversight hearing.
Lynch responded that there were "any number of factors" that would increase the risk to U.S. communities from terrorism, without saying whether Guantanamo detainees were among those factors.
Further questioning by an increasingly frustrated Forbes elicited the same response.
"As the Attorney General of the United States, you do not have an opinion whether or not bringing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and locating them in a city would have any capability at all of putting that city on a hit list by ISIS?" Forbes asked.
"I believe I’ve indicated there’d be any number of factors," Lynch said.
"No, you’ve indicated you wouldn’t answer the question," Forbes said.
The exchange comes as President Obama makes a push to fulfill his campaign promise to shutter the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which holds suspected terrorists captured on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the weekend, the Defense Department transferred five detainees who were captured during the 2001 Battle of Tora Bora to the United Arab Emirates, the latest transfer of suspected terrorists deemed low risk by an interagency task force.
The Obama administration has prodded the task force to expedite the transfer of remaining detainees to foreign countries. Detainees not cleared for transfer to foreign countries will be transferred to prisons in the U.S.
Americans overwhelmingly oppose efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay despite the president’s vocal campaign.