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McKeon cosponsors bill to screen Gitmo releases

Would require inmates to be deemed 'safe' before release

Posted: January 21, 2010 4:10 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2010 7:00 a.m.
 
Washington, D.C.- On the eve of the President's self-imposed deadline to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, House Republicans introduced legislation that would restrict the President's ability to transfer Guantanamo detainees to countries with ungoverned spaces or active al-Qaeda terrorists or networks.

Ranking Member Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), and the leading Republicans on the Homeland Security, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs Committees introduced the bill. 

The legislation (H.R. 4490), entitled the Detainee Transfer and Release Security Act of 2010, is in direct response to the high number of detainees who have returned to fight against the United States alongside al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks after being released from Guantanamo.

The inherent danger of releasing detainees to countries where they can easily return to terrorism was underscored by the Christmas Day terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 -- where a former Guantanamo detainee is a senior leader of the organization that was responsible for planning and coordinating the attack.

The bill would require the President, prior to any detainee transfer from Guantanamo to a foreign country, to certify to Congress the following: the country is not a state sponsor of terrorism; it can secure and exercise control over its territory; no portion of the country serves as a safe haven for terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda; and the country has no confirmed case of any individual released into their custody from Guantanamo that returned to terrorist activities.

In writing the legislation, McKeon and the Armed Services Committee Republicans took into consideration testimony made by General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, which highlighted the challenges to U.S. national security posed by Yemen and other countries with ungoverned space and active al-Qaeda terrorists.

Transfers and releases to such countries threaten both our and their security. These countries need the United States to help them with their security -- not the reverse, McKeon said.

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