Ayotte: Prisoners Obama wants released have documented terrorist ties
By Kelly Thomas | August 11, 2016, 12:10 EDT
WASHINGTON, DC – In her ongoing battle with the Obama administration regarding the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) on Wednesday released a comprehensive report summarizing the terrorist affiliations and backgrounds of more than 100 individuals recently held at the facility.
Early in his first term, President Barack Obama announced plans to close the detention center, which held approximately 240 prisoners at that time. So far, his administration has transferred 162 suspected terrorists to other countries. Five percent of those transferred have re-engaged in militant activities, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and another 8 percent are suspected of doing so. There are currently 76 prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
The report released by Ayotte’s office this week provides the names of 107 suspects who were held at Guantanamo since November 25, 2015, alongside a list of each individual’s alleged terrorist activities or connections. Typically, reports from the Department of Defense include only the detainee’s name and proposed country of transfer, making the New Hampshire Senator’s release of the unclassified report unprecedented.
The Obama administration has faced stiff opposition to his plans to close Guantanamo from Republican legislators who remain wary of releasing suspected terrorists into the custody of other countries, or transferring them to U.S. prisons in their own states. Nevertheless, the administration has pressed forward, transferring handfuls of detainees at a time.
Ayotte, who last spring accused the Obama administration of being more interested in fulfilling “a misguided and dangerous campaign promise” than in the security of the U.S. people, has long pushed the administration to disclose the full reach and capabilities of the detainees it are proposes to release or transfer.
In April, Ayotte introduced the Detaining Terrorists to Protect Americans Act of 2016, which, if enacted, would prevent closure Guantanamo and prevent transfer of detainees to the U.S. and suspend the release of detainees to other countries until September 30, 2017.
In commenting on the report released yesterday by her office, Ayotte expressed her belief that, “the more Americans understand about the terrorist activities and affiliations of these detainees, the more they will oppose the administration’s terribly misguided plans to release them.”
The Granite State’s senior senator, who is locked in one of the nation’s most competitive re-election races this season, is expected to square off this fall against Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire’s liberal Democratic governor, this fall. Ayotte’s campaign hopes that the senator’s strong national security stances will bolster her candidacy.