The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants President Obama to appoint a Gitmo czar to get the detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the prison.
Forty-six dangerous detainees have been flagged for indefinite detention. Eighty-six of the current detainees at Guantanamo have been approved for transfer to their home countries or another nation willing to take them under strict security conditions.
That counts out the country where the majority of those 86 are from — Yemen — because of the administration’s freeze on transfers there imposed after underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s botched 2009 attempt to blow up an airliner.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out to Obama’s counsel Kathryn Ruemmler that the president vowed at his press conference to recommit to closing Gitmo “because, as he pointed out, it is expensive, inefficient, damaging to the United States’ international standing, reduces the cooperation of our allies in countering terrorism, and serves as a recruiting tool for extremists.”
“I recognize that Congress has made the process of relocating GITMO detainees to third countries more difficult by imposing certification requirements on such transfers,” Levin wrote Ruemmler this week. “However, more than a year ago, I successfully fought for a national security waiver that provides a clear route for the transfer of detainees to third countries in appropriate cases, i.e., to make sure the certification requirements do not constitute an effective prohibition.”
“I urge the President to appoint an official inside the White House to spearhead an interagency effort to determine which of the more than eighty detainees who have already been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force meet the certification (and waiver) requirements, and to actively work for their transfer,” he added. “High level leadership on detainee transfers is critical to advancing the goal of closing GITMO.”