The Obama administration has order the Pentagon to release more detainees from Guantanamo Bay, otherwise known as Gitmo, despite continued wide-spread and Republican opposition.
According to The Wall Street Journal, defense and congressional officials say five detainees were transferred last week, and that there will be another round in December. However, defense officials refused to disclose further information on their numbers or nationalities.
“The closing of Guantanamo Bay and releasing of detainees remains a radical left position in America,” says PPD’s senior political analyst Rich Baris, who has examined public opinion on the issue for years. “The anti-Guantanamo crowd is loud, but they have been in the minority since Obama first made the issue a central campaign promise in 2008. Even a majority of Democrats oppose that idea.”
President Obama promised since before he took office that he would close the controversial detention center, a move that has been opposed by most Republicans, and Americans. The Wall Street Journal, citing congressional and defense officials, say senior officials at the White House are growing impatient as the president’s term draw closer to its end. They are pressing him to fulfill the promise of the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
A recent report U.S. intel officials believe upwards of 20 to 30 Guantanamo Bay detainees released by the Obama administration have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In response to the early October report, House Speaker John Boehner said that closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center was opposed by an “overwhelming majority of Americans” and, according to PPD’s analysis, he’s absolutely correct.
The moves come shortly after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his resignation and, despite criticisms over pressuring Hagel to be the fall man for a failed foreign policy, administration officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal say the president is still moving too slowly to certify detainees for release.
House and Senate negotiators are debating whether to revise the rules governing transfers as a part of this year’s defense authorization bill, which sets Pentagon policy. The House version of the measure has proposed much stricter restrictions on transfers.
A recent Government Accountability Office investigation concluded that the Obama administration violated the law when it ordered the Pentagon to swap the Taliban Five detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a known deserter who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years after abandoning his post. The government watchdog agency said the administration’s failure to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange was a clear violation of the law.
Under current law, which was passed in a broad bipartisan fashion, the executive branch is prohibited from releasing Guantanamo Bay detainees without first receiving the aforementioned notice and approval.