October 27, 2021

More Detainees Set for Release From Guantanamo

More detainees are slowly and quietly being released from U.S. detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Five captives were released last week and more are set for December, although defense officials have been vague about numbers, the Journal said.

Just 143 detainees remain at the facility now, down from a high of close to 800 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As President Barack Obama has said he favors closing Guantanamo entirely, some Republicans including U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, have raised concerns. The California lawmaker has complained that the numbers of detainees set for transfer by the administration is rising, the Journal reported.

The releases have also turned political. While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must approve transfers out, he apparently tangled with the White House over his pace, favoring a full investigation to ensure the captives would not be a risk to U.S. security once freed, Politico reported.

U.S. News & World Report cited Maddow Blog writer Steve Benen, who outlined the political chess going on behind Hagel’s back before his resignation was announced earlier this week, noting that his attitude on Guantanamo and releasing detainees was a part of his departure.

“Benen notes that a Saudi national, Muhammad al-Zahrani, an Al Qaida-trained fighter who’d been incarcerated in Guantanamo for well over a decade, was quietly repatriated over the weekend, a signal that a Pentagon shakeup was near. Five other detainees were released last week,” U.S. News said.