4 Detainees Transferred From Guantanamo on the Last Full Day of Obama's Presidency
They're the final transfers of the Obama administration.
By LUIS MARTINEZ
January 20, 2017, 5:31 AM
• 3 min read
-- On the final full day of the Obama administration, four detainees at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, leaving 41 detainees still at the facility that the Obama administration unsuccessfully sought to close.
In a statement issued late Thursday, the Department of Defense announced that Ravil Mingazov, Haji Wali Muhammed, and Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim were transferred to the United Arab Emirates and that abran al Qahtani was transferred to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, President Obama released a report to Congress that outlined his administration's efforts to close the detention facility.
In an accompanying letter, Obama criticized Republicans for blocking that effort from becoming a reality.
"There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress' insistence on keeping the facility open," Obama wrote. "Members of Congress who obstruct efforts to close the facility, given the stakes involved for our security, have abdicated their responsibility to the American people."
The president continued, "They have placed politics above the ongoing costs to taxpayers, our relationships with our allies, and the threat posed to U.S. national security by leaving open a facility that governments around the world condemn and which hinders rather than helps our fight against terrorism."
Congress has passed legislation that prevented the spending of funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to detention facilities on the U.S. mainland.
Nearly 800 detainees have been held at the camp that opened in early 2002 to house enemy combatants in the war on terror. More than 500 were transferred under the Bush administration and another 196 have been transferred under the Obama administration.
Five of the 41 remaining detainees at Guantanamo have been approved for transfers but it remains uncertain if a Trump administration would make that happen. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would not only keep the detention facility open but "load it up with some bad dudes."
Ten of the remaining detainees are currently in different stages of prosecution including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Another 26 detainees are eligible for Periodic Review Boards that determine if they continue to pose a terror threat to the U.S. However, it is often assumed that these detainees will neither be eligible for prosecution nor transfers.
The Obama administration report sent to Congress said the annual cost of maintaining the camp is approximately $445 million. It estimated that maintaining the facility open would require an additional $225 million in construction and furnishing costs.