Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today co-sponsored the Protections Against Terrorist Transfer Act of 2016 (S. 2780), a bill introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS). The legislation would provide congressional oversight of the transfer or release of Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) detainees. It would prohibit the transfer or release of any individual detained at GITMO to the custody of any foreign country unless the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that the individual no longer poses a continuing threat to the security of the U.S., its citizens and its interests.
“The administration’s continued insistence on transferring terrorist detainees from Naval Station Guantanamo is reckless. We have seen detainees released from Guantanamo continue to return to terrorism to inflict damage on our homeland, U.S. military personnel and American civilians,” said Rubio. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our nation and its people, and the administration should listen to Congress and the American people and cease these dangerous transfers. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of legislation that strives to keep our country safe and terrorists where they belong.”
S. 2780 also retracts the automatic authorization to transfer or release an individual detained at GITMO after the submission of a 30-day notification to Congress. In its place, the legislation requires certification submission to the appropriate committees no later than 30 days after the Secretary of Defense makes a determination on the transfer or release.
The Obama Administration has been rapidly transferring detainees from GITMO since 2010, releasing nearly 70 GITMO detainees since November 2014. On Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced the release of another 12 detainees to two countries, reducing the 91 remaining GITMO detainees to 79. As we know, GITMO detainees continue to return to terrorism, including Ibrahim al-Qosi, now a spokesman and recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), or most recently Muhammad Salih Husayn al-Shaykh who has pledged to kill as many Americans as possible. With the total reengagement rate of GITMO detainees returning to the battlefield at more than 30 percent, an individual detained at GITMO who poses a continuing threat to the security of the U.S. should be held at GITMO.