Obama Admin Releases Stunning New Numbers on Gitmo Detainees

By Jonah Bennett Published on March 8, 2016

The Obama administration just admitted the number of released Guantanamo Bay detainees suspected of returning to terrorist activities has doubled from July 2015 to January 2016.

According to a biannual report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, detainees suspected of reengaging as militants has jumped from six to 12 in the six-month period since a report was previously released in July. The number of detainees confirmed to have reengaged has increased from six to seven.

The new figures have come at exactly the wrong time, given that the Obama administration two weeks ago forwarded a Gitmo closure plan to Congress. Republicans already intended to oppose the plan, with some legislators even arguing what the administration submitted does not legally constitute a plan. This is because the document does not specify a single Department of Defense-operated facility in the United States for where Gitmo residents deserving of indefinite detention should be sent. Instead, the plan notes 13 separate facilities, which could potentially hold between 30-60 detainees.

In effect, because the plan does not specify a single location and list out concrete costs, the Obama administration has essentially alienated any possible support from sympathetic Republicans like Sen. John McCain.

Congress has confirmed it will review the plan, though GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, majority leader, said it is unlikely to gain any real support.

These new recidivism statistics will likely only serve to shore up Republican opposition to closing Gitmo.

While Congress prepares a review process, other legislators are moving to ensure the Obama administration doesn’t find a clever legal loophole to circumvent Congress and shutter the facility.

GOP Rep. Ted Yoho recently suggested to GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, to eliminate any ambiguities in the annual defense bill regarding the U.S. government’s lease of Gitmo from Cuba, which began in 1903.

Yoho’s proposal stipulates that no change shall be made to the lease agreement without prior congressional approval.

The Obama administration has acknowledged it will wait for Congress to come to a decision, but has not outright disclaimed the possibility of using executive action to close the facility.

Americans have chosen to side with Republican legislators. A CNN/ORC poll conducted from Feb. 24-27 found 56 percent of Americans oppose closing the detention facility, while only 40 percent support the idea of shutting it down. The number of Republicans opposed has increased from 76 percent in August, 2015, to 83 percent.


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