Six detainees from the prison at Guantanamo were transferred yesterday to Uruguay, where they will be released and treated as “refugees.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, wondered whether the Pentagon is really performing “due diligence” when considering the release of those accused of being terrorists.
“I’ve been opposed to this notion that we’re going to farm out Gitmo to places,” Rogers told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting most of the detainees sent to Uruguay are not originally from there.
According to Rogers, the foreign intelligence services the United States pays to monitor the newly released detainees in countries such as Uruguay are often ill-equipped to handle the job.
“What we have found in the past is it doesn’t work very well,” he said. “I don’t think that surprises anybody. So I argue that maybe we ought to rethink what we’re doing here.”
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Echoing the sentiments of many members of Congress, Rogers said some previously released prisoners are now re-engaged in the terrorist fight.
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“We knew that was going to happen,” Rogers said. “That’s why those of us who were trying to do the review of this were so concerned, because they were so interested in getting them out, that they forgot to do the due diligence — I think — that would allow them to at least protect those that were going to go back into the fight, from getting back into the fight.”
Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who recently announced his resignation in light of administrative pressure, authorized the prisoner release, according to the Pentagon. His reluctance to approve the mission until now could have been a part of the tension leading to his resignation.
But House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff, D-California, defended Hagel’s decision to delay the authorization of the mission, citing his continued concerns over the timing of the prisoner release.
“There were a couple of things I think Secretary Hagel had some continued concerns over,” Schiff said on CNN’s “Newsroom.” “He wanted to make sure that he was satisfied that he could sign on the dotted line.”
Schiff pointed to Uruguay’s recent presidential election as one of the roadblocks.
“There was an election taking place in Uruguay, and I think the president — who agreed to accept these detainees — didn’t want it to be an issue in the presidential campaign,” Schiff said. “And so it was stayed until after that election was over.”
The Pentagon has tried to track the released terrorists to find out how many rejoin terrorist groups. Their latest figures show about 8% of detainees released since 2009 have re-entered the fight against America. Before that, the figure was over 32%.
What these numbers don’t show is how many released detainees have been providing material support to terrorists. Some of them may not have picked up a gun, but are assisting our enemies in other ways. Some government officials put that number a lot higher than 8%.
Of course, statistics mean little unless it’s your loved one killed in a terrorist attack carried out or planned by a former Gitmo inmate.
We are paying the Uruguayan government to monitor these former detainees, which, as Rogers points out, doesn’t often work well. Consider the Taliban 5, released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. The US government apparently has no knowledge of whether the Qatari government is keeping track of them as promised. And as trained terrorists, those released to Uruguay may be able to evade that country’s intelligence agencies.
This is a bad idea all around, and further transfers should be scrutinized by Congress.