DOD official: ‘There have been Americans that have died because of Gitmo detainees’

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As reported by the Associated Press, U.S. Defense Department Special Envoy for Guantanamo Detention Closure Paul Lewis testified in the House Foreign Relations Committee today that former prisoners released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have killed Americans.

He made this revelation in an exchange with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.).

Here is a video and transcript of the exchange:

Rohrabacher: “We say that about 30 percent, or whatever that figure is–that have been released–have returned to terrorist activities. How many lives have been lost by those terrorists who went back to their terrorist activity?”

Lewis: “I can talk about that in a classified setting, but—“

Rohrabacher: “Oh, classified?”

Lewis: “Yes.”

Rohrabacher: “So, is it over ten?”

Lewis: “Sir, what I can tell you is, unfortunately, there have been Americans that have died because of Gitmo detainees.”

Rohrabacher: “How many Americans have to die, how many people in Brussels or Paris have to die, civilians? What is the threshold at that point—well, maybe we will keep them under control in Gitmo?”

Lewis: “Sir, when anybody dies it’s a tragedy. And we don’t want anybody to die because we transfer detainees. However, it’s best judgment and the considered judgment of this administration, and the previous administration, that the risk of keeping Gitmo open is outweighed—that we should close Gitmo. That–

Rohrabacher: “So, the innocent people who are going to lose their lives because of this, they are just part of the equation?”

Lewis: “No, sir. They’re a risks–

Rohrabacher: “I am sorry, I want to tell you this much. As far as I am concerned, if one child is saved because she would have been blown up by someone who is being released, it’s better to keep all 90 of those people in Gitmo. And this idea that the people of the world—Oh, they are so upset with us, that it’s a recruiting vehicle—that we’ve kept terrorists, who murder innocent people, in Gitmo. Well, you know what, I think that the bigger recruiting tool today is when our government—especially this administration—is perceived as being weak. I think terrorists are recruited not because we’ve held other terrorists in prison but because we look like we are weak and cannot deal with the challenge.

“This disgusts me, thank you very much.