U.S. Representative Ed Royce

39th District of California

Revelation: Bad people actually at Guantanamo



Washington, May 18, 2009 -

The Sunday talk show talk of Guantanamo had some twisting like a pretzel.  One Senator, who had supported President Obama's January order to close Guantanamo within one year, announced yesterday that after sitting down with his staff, he opposes "artificial timelines" for closing the facility.  I guess he discovered that very dangerous people are kept in Guantanamo after all.  He also made known his opposition to releasing about a half-dozen Chinese ethnic Uyghur detainees into the United States.  Location of their potential release?  You guessed it: his home state of Virginia.  His reverse comes on the heels of a Democrat-written spending bill, passed by the House last week, denying the President's requested funds to close Guantanamo.  The majority's problem with the President's closure plan?  He doesn't have one. 

You see, Guantanamo has remained open, not because of a lack of desire to close it, but because of the complexities of actually doing so.  During the campaign, "Close Guantanamo" was a popular applause line.  Most press reports at the time didn't mention that many released from Guantanamo --after claiming to be merely farmers, truck drivers and cooks-- returned to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill Americans.  Defense intelligence indicates that 61 former detainees have returned to terrorism after their release (U.S. News & World Report: "Some Freed Terrorism Detainees Return to the Fight"). 

This number includes Abdullah Mehsud, a one-legged leading pro-Taliban militant who was killed in Pakistan in July 2007.  Mehsud was released from GITMO in 2004 and returned with a group of detainees to Pakistan.  Within a year, he was leading a Taliban insurgency movement, operating within the Pak-Afghan border region.  Another former Guantanamo detainee has emerged as a top deputy of al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, being implicated in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in that country last fall.  These aren't isolated incidents. 

The media should have been reporting the danger of the Guantanamo detainees all along.  It didn't, helping the issue to become a political distortion.  What matters now, though, is getting the policy right.  That the Congressional majority and the Administration may be waking-up is encouraging.  American lives are at stake.      

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