WASHINGTON, D.C. N.C. Congressman Richard Hudson (R-08) accused President Obama of “recklessness” after U.S. officials said on Monday that 15 inmates from the Guantanamo prison were transferred to the United Arab Emirates. This is the single largest transfer of Guantanamo detainees during Obama’s administration. Hudson authored an amendment adopted by voice vote in June to the defense spending bill that would prohibit the administration from transferring any detainees out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”The president’s recklessness with our national security is breathtaking,” said Hudson. “He continues to endanger the lives of Americans to fulfill a campaign promise. I’ll continue to fight the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the release of dangerous war criminals and hardened terrorists who keep finding their way back to the battlefield.”The transfer of the 12 Yemeni and three Afghan citizens brings the total number of detainees down to 61 at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay. Most have been held without charge or trial for more than a decade, drawing international condemnation. However in March, a senior Pentagon official shocked lawmakers after admitting that to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that former Guantanamo inmates are responsible for the deaths of Americans overseas. According to the Washington Post, Paul Lewis, who oversees Guantanamo issues at the Defense Department for the Obama administration, said at least 12 detainees released from the prison have launched attacks, killing about a half-dozen Americans. Since that report however, the administration has refused to elaborate on his comments saying that the information was classified.Obama, who made a campaign promise to close the prison during his first year in office, rolled out a plan in February 2016 aimed at shutting the facility. But he faces opposition from many Republican lawmakers as well as some fellow Democrats. “In its race to close Gitmo, the Obama administration is doubling down on policies that put American lives at risk,” Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat,” he said. While Obama’s plan for shuttering the facility calls for bringing the several dozen remaining prisoners to maximum-security prisons in the United States, U.S. law bars such transfers to the mainland. Obama, though, has not ruled out doing so by executive action. “I think we are at an extremely dangerous point where there is a significant possibility this is going to remain open as a permanent offshore prison to hold people, practically until they die,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International’s U.S. director for security and human rights. Shah said keeping Guantanamo open gave cover to foreign governments to ignore human rights. “It weakens the U.S. government’s hand in arguing against torture and indefinite detention,” she said. One of the detainees who was transferred is an Afghan national, identified as Obaidullah, who has spent more than 13 years at Guantanamo. He had been accused of storing mines to be used against American forces in Afghanistan. “We’re at war with radical Islamic extremists, yet our commander-in-chief is so focused on closing Guantanamo Bay that he ignores the danger posed by the terrorists detained there. The American people are counting on us to protect them,” said Hudson on the floor of the U.S. House. “This is a prison that houses some of the world’s most dangerous war criminals and hardened terrorists including some responsible for 9/11. How can this administration guarantee that these prisoners won’t return to the battlefield?”The resistance to closing the facility has grown in recent months after terror attacks in France, London and Belgium highlighted terrorists growing focus on executing attacks on “soft targets” where civilians gather. However the Obama administration insists that Gitmo damages relationships with Middle East allies. “The continued operation of the detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists,” Lee Wolosky, the State Department’s special envoy for closing the Guantanamo detention center, said. “The support of our friends and allies like the UAE is critical to our achieving this shared goal,” Wolosky added. A State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity said the UAE had resettled five detainees transferred in November 2015.Reuters News Service contributed to the report.
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