by Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA)
A year ago, the President made a promise on his first day in office – to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Like many of the President’s promises, this is another one he has failed to keep – though, in this case, I am thankful for the lack of follow through.
There is no question in my mind that there are terrorists around the world that wish to do America and her citizens harm. We have seen this both here at home and abroad, most recently with the attempted attacks on Christmas Day over Detroit. However, the President and his Administration seem to be lacking a fundamental understanding of the gravity of these threats – hence, their proclamation to close GITMO with no concrete plan in place or their decision to bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York City for trial.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a terrorist with clear ties to Yemen, a nation that was known to be a safe haven for terrorists and that lacks the ability to appropriately detain and track suspected terrorists. Yet, up until the attempted Christmas Day attacks, detainees from GITMO were being transferred to Yemen, with six being transferred in December alone. Additionally, at least 301 detainees have been transferred or released into nations or regions listed by the U.S. Department of State as “terrorist safe havens,” “nations with terrorist activity,” or “State Sponsors of terrorism.” Furthermore, since January 2009, at least 18 Guantanamo detainees have been transferred or released to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, which are three nations listed by the Department of State as being a haven for terrorist activity.
These statistics are underscored by the recidivism rate for detainees who have been transferred or released. DoD has reported a 14 percent recidivism rate for Guantanamo detainees who have been transferred or released and have re-entered the battlefield or reunited with terrorist organizations. This recidivism rate is expected to rise to 20 percent when DoD completes is upcoming review.
While the Obama Administration seems content to operate a defacto catch and release program, we simply cannot continue to give terrorists more rights while eroding the security of the United States. As elected public servants, our foremost responsibility is to keep America safe. Legislation I introduced would put a stop to this.
H.R. 4464, the Prevent Terrorists from Reuniting with Terrorist Cells Act, would – quite simply – put an end to this. H.R. 4464 would halt the transfer—for detention or release— of detainees to any nation or region listed by the U.S. Department of State or Department of Defense (DoD) as a safe haven for terrorist activity or a State Sponsor of terrorism.
Today, former GITMO detainees are meeting our troops again on the battlefield. They are plotting attacks on the United States with their terrorist organizations. This jeopardizes America’s security and I believe the President knows that – which is why he halted transfers to Yemen. However, Yemen is but one example of a much large problem, and we need a holistic solution. My legislation achieves that goal.