August 16, 2016
By Lorra B.
Guantanamo Bay, long a thorn in the side of the Obama administration, is in the news again with the recent release of 15 detainees.
In the largest transfer under Obama, detainees were shipped to the United Arab Emirates in an effort to close Guantanamo Bay permanently.
The recently released detainees, mostly held without charges ever having been filed against then, had been there approximately 14 years, according to the Associated Press.
The Periodic Review Board cleared the detainees for release and includes representatives from six U.S. government agencies.
“The Pentagon says 61 detainees now remain at Guantanamo, which was opened in January 2002 to hold foreign fighters suspected of links to the Taliban or the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. During the Bush administration, 532 prisoners were released from Guantanamo, often in large groups to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia,” reports the Associated Press.
Of the 61 detainees, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, 20 have been approved for transfer, 7 are facing criminal charges and 34 remain in continued detention. At its peak in June of 2003 Guantanamo Bay’s population reached 684 detainees.
The State Department’s special representative, Lee Wolosky, stated that the administration was ‘grateful’ that the detainees were accepted by the United Arab Emirates.
“The continued operation of the detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.”
It is Obama’s contention that keeping Guantanamo Bay open will severely hinder relationships with other countries that the U.S. needs to help in the fight of global terrorism. Guantanamo “undermines our standing in the world,” Obama stated.
With a majority Republican congress since 1929, it has been a challenge for Obama to close the facility that has a price tag of $445 million annually.
“In clearing [one of the detainees] for transfer, the review board said he hasn’t expressed any anti-U.S. sentiment or intent to re-engage in militant activities. However, a Pentagon detainee profile also said he provided little information and they had little “insight into his current mindset.”
Arguing the danger these detainees pose to the U.S., some politicians from both sides stated their frustration at the prison still being open saying that they are too dangerous to remain in either civilian prisons or on American soil.
But what has happened to the detainees already released thus far? According to the Director of National Intelligence, 21% of the detainees released under George W. Bush went straight back to militant motion.
Under the Obama administration 5% have been confirmed to have reengaged in militant activities that they know of.
There is, however, a huge resentment of the U.S. by Afghans who felt their treatment was deplorable and they were confused at why they were sent there in the first place.
The Pentagon, however, feels that the resentment felt by the detainees was due more to “an emotion that probably is motivated more by frustration over his continuing detention than by a commitment to global jihad.”
By Lorra B.