WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Some lawmakers are taking another step in keeping terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing Thursday to question officials from the State and Defense Departments about the release of detainees and what happens when they’re gone.
“While I’ve been patient, the President has been in a rush, seemingly willing, to release Guantanamo terrorists to wherever he can,” said Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA).
The Gitmo saga continues.
"I think there's plenty of blame to go all around,” said Congressman Eliot Engle (D-NY).
Paul Lewis from the Department of Defense and Lee Wolosky from the State Department are Special Envoys for the Obama Administration’s effort to close Guantanamo. They testified in front of a House committee Thursday, stressing the need to transfer detainees out of, and close, Guantanamo for national security reasons.
"The cost of Gitmo outweighs the benefit. It hurts us,” said Lewis.
"The low rate of re-engagement for detainees released since January 2009 is testament to the rigorous, interagency approach the Administration has taken to both approving detainees for transfer and to negotiating and vetting detainee transfer frameworks,” said Wolosky.
Democrats on the committee say the release system is thorough and successful.
"Under no circumstances is the Obama administration simply opening the gate and releasing dangerous terrorists onto the street,” said Ranking Member Eliot Engle.
But House Republicans remain concerned that former detainees are recklessly transferred to countries where they can easily hop back into terrorist activity, and attack the U.S., all because the Obama administration wants to move fast in closing Guantanamo.
"These are unquestionably people who should be held until the end of the global war on terrorism,” said Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), who sits on the Committee. "This is a war declared on us, we didn’t declare a war on them.”
Wilson says the hearing confirmed his feeling that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should never be released.
"The more that people find out that these terrorists have gone back to killing Americans, to killing our allies, to threatening American lives, the more unlikely the President would recklessly release these terrorist back into the world,” said Wilson.
About 80 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. Even those close to the president have expressed opposition over the plan to close the prison, the latest being from Attorney General Loretta Lynch.