A group of Republicans, led by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, is striking back against the Obama administration by introducing a bill to prevent President Obama from emptying Guantanamo Bay and sending prisoners to Yemen.
“Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo,” said Ayotte, who introduced the bill, The Hill reports. Ayotte bought up the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as the central motivation for the bill, since the terrorists involved in the shootings had been trained in Yemen, a country which has received 22 transfers directly from Guantanamo Bay since 2004. The legislation prohibits any transfers to Yemen for at least two years, while also keeping detainees away from U.S. soil. Any detainees deemed high- or medium-risk cannot be released.
Rep. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has thrown his support behind the bill. ”The attack in Paris indicated the degree in which terrorists are being trained and sent back to commit acts of terror,” said McCain.
“One or possibly both of these individuals [behind the attack] … have received training in Yemen,” he added.
Since November, Obama has moved 22 detainees out of Guantanamo, with Kazakhstan and Afghanistan taking in nine. The rest have been dispersed around the world. Uruguay took six, Slovakia took two, Georgia accepted three and Tunisia and Saudi Arabia each received one.
A suspected 30 percent of high-valued targets released from Guantanamo Bay have reverted back to terrorist activities, according to a House Armed Services sub-committee report obtained by The Associated Press.
Yet on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reaffirmed that shutting the prison down is “in the clear national security interest” of the country, according to Fox News. Congressional Republicans have stopped Obama since 2009, and the latest attempt from Ayotte constitutes an effort to extend that opposition well into the future.
“At a time that the administration suggests that al Qaeda has been decimated, at a minimum why would we begin to rebuild al Qaeda?” added Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, according to The Hill.
Currently, out of 127 detainees left at Guantanamo, 59 remain eligible for transfer.