OP Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton urged the Obama administration Monday to stop the transfer of any more detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries.
The Obama administration transferred yet another detainee out of the facility to Cape Verde over the weekend, leaving just 59 behind. This latest transfer, the first since GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, is what prompted a heated objection from Cotton, The Hill reports.
“The inmates remaining at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst and need to remain where they are so they cannot return to the battlefield and attack us once again,” Cotton said.
“President Obama should listen to the will of the people and halt any further Guantanamo transfers,” Cotton added.
Unlike the Obama administration, Trump has made clear he intends to keep the facility open, thwarting Obama’s original campaign promise in 2008 to shutter the prison. Not only that, but Trump wants to add more prisoners to the population.
For Cotton, the Obama administration’s desperate attempt to empty the prison of as many detainees as possible before Trump takes over is good evidence the White House is prioritizing its own promises over national security, which endangers America.
“President Obama is spending his last days in office making America less safe by rushing to fulfill one final campaign promise and release hardened terrorists from Guantanamo Bay,” he said.
The Pentagon announced Sunday that it sent 35-year-old Shawki Awad Balzuhair to Cape Verde in northwest Africa. Balzuhair had been detained at Gitmo for more than 14 years. While he had initially been labeled as “high risk,” several agencies later downgraded their assessment. There are now 59 detainees left, but only 20 have been recommended for transfer, as the rest are simply too dangerous.
In 2010, Cape Verde took a Syrian detainee from the prison.
“The United States is grateful to the Government of Cabo Verde for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said Sunday.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told Congress that at least eight more detainees will be released in the coming weeks.