News / USA

    Pentagon Confirms Guantanamo Transfers Have Killed Americans

    US Congressman: Brussels Attack Could Change Minds on Guantanamo Detentioni
    X
    March 24, 2016 2:09 AM
    U.S. State Department and Pentagon officials testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday about the Obama administration's plans to close Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility - a hearing that took place one day after the Brussels terrorist attacks. As VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports, some lawmakers suggested that attacks in Brussels and last year in Paris might persuade European allies to rethink calls to close the facility.

    A senior Defense Department official told U.S. lawmakers Wednesday that Americans have been killed by detainees who were released from the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Paul Lewis, the Pentagon's special envoy for closing the facility, declined to provide details, including whether the incidents occurred during the administration of President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama.

    "What I can tell you is unfortunately there have been Americans that have died because of detainees," Lewis told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    News agencies quoting unnamed officials have reported that the incident involved an Afghan prisoner released while Bush was president. There have also been allegations that a former detainee was involved in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

    Guantanamo and Brussels

    The disclosure came during a briefing by Defense and State department officials to lawmakers about how the prison has become a powerful propaganda tool for Islamic State. Obama and administration officials have said images of the U.S. detention facility are a reminder to the international community of U.S.-authorized torture and long-term detentions without trial.

    "Countries across the world and allies tell us that Gitmo hurts us," Lewis said, using a shortened term for the Guantanamo facility. "By closing Gitmo, we address a concern of the rest of the world.”

    But many Republican and some Democratic members of Congress have opposed closing Guantanamo.

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., says that compared with the Guantanamo Bay detention center, "the bigger recruiting tool [for terrorists] is when our government, especially this administration, is perceived as being weak."
    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., says that compared with the Guantanamo Bay detention center, "the bigger recruiting tool [for terrorists] is when our government, especially this administration, is perceived as being weak."

    Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, said Wednesday that European allies might change their negative opinions of the detention facility in the wake of the attacks that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more Tuesday in Belgium.

    "Let me suggest that the attitude of our European friends may well be changing in the next six months or so when they realize that the slaughter that’s taking place in Paris and now in Brussels is part of an international movement to destroy Western civilization and replace it with a caliphate," he said.

    FILE - Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calls Gitmo a "gift that keeps on giving" for extremists trying to recruit fighters.
    FILE - Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calls Gitmo a "gift that keeps on giving" for extremists trying to recruit fighters.

    The committee's ranking minority member, Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, called the facility a "gift that keeps on giving" for extremists trying to recruit fighters, but Rohrabacher said those concerns were misplaced.

    "I think the bigger recruiting tool is when our government, especially this administration, is perceived as being weak," Rohrabacher said.

    Transfers continue

    More than 85 percent of those detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 have been transferred to other countries.

    According to intelligence reporting, less than 5 percent of Gitmo detainees transferred during the Obama administration have returned to terrorism.

    Some lawmakers, however, fear countries that have received Gitmo detainees, like Uruguay and Ghana, aren’t prepared to properly monitor them.

    “Ghana’s a wonderful place. It’s a wonderful country. But the fact is, it does not have top-notch intelligence or law enforcement services to deal with this kind of problem,” Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican who serves as the committee's chairman, said Wednesday.

    As more detainees become eligible for transfer, the Gitmo detention process remains hotly debated, but the option of moving detainees from Guantanamo to U.S. soil remains against the law.


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Xaaji Dhagax
    March 24, 2016 2:47 PM
    This is typical America's culture of double standard. On one hand, America lectures the world the rosiness of democracy, freedom, human right, blah..blah..blah and on the other hand, it continues to behave like macho gangster by killing, torturing, burning black churches and black people under the name of law of jungle.
    Payback is on the way for gangsters!

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    March 24, 2016 7:19 AM
    Recruitment for extremism will continue whether Gitmo is open, or not. But as long as that stain on American honor remains open, it will remain a shining beacon of resistance to every extremist-thinking person around the world.

    Our jails today in America are filled with prisoners who have killed Americans. Its called crime. The difference between those prisons and Gitmo is that the inmates at Gitmo are there without trial, without legal representation, they are just there.

    Close the place, if the detainees are determined to carry out future attacks, they will do so no matter what anyone says or does. At least we can take away that one terrible symbol of unlawful detention from their arsenal of recruitment and murder.
    In Response

    by: BDR from: Virginia
    March 24, 2016 9:38 AM
    Well said.

    by: Andreas Lucas from: Lima, Peru
    March 24, 2016 2:39 AM
    If a person wrongfully jailed, tortured, waterboarded and humiliated in Guantanamo prison for extended period of time without due process of rule of law.
    Gringos are seriously wrong in believing that victim person if released from the prison would sing "God Bless America".
    Americans is culprit and becomes legitimate target for that person suffered at the hands of CIA.

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 24, 2016 1:01 AM
    The Islamic psychotic murderers must die on the battlefield, no prisoners, no courts. It would be very convenient is they just all kicked the bucket like Arafat.

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