Should foreigners picked up conducting terrorist training with Al Qaeda and subsequently held at Guantanamo Bay just be released into our communities, no questions asked? Believe it or not, it could happen. And soon.
The Obama administration is ready to release a number of Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 into the United States, according to several recent press reports.
Information I have received, however, indicates that the 17 Uighurs being held at Guantanamo may be more dangerous than the public has been led to believe. Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have reportedly raised serious concerns about the release of the 17 detainees, who are said to be members of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist organization affiliated with Al Qaeda.
To be clear, we are not talking about transferring these folks to prisons in the United States. They would released, free and clear. They would be walking our streets, shopping in our malls, eating in our restaurants.
Last Friday, I wrote President Obama asking that all the information about the capture and detention of the 17 Uighurs — including a threat assessment for each detainee who would be released into the United States — be declassified and released to the public. Any intelligence assessment of the Uighurs also must take into account not only their previous training at terrorist camps but their potential subsequent exposure to the likes of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 who also took pleasure in beheading Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The American people have a right to know all the facts. Following the precedent the Obama administration set in declassifying the Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos, it has a moral obligation to declassify all relevant information related to the Uyghur detainees. This administration has already shown that it has no qualms about releasing selected classified documents. It can’t just pick and choose what classified information it deems worthy of releasing.
It is worth noting that after learning that the decision could come any day now, I requested briefings from a number of relevant agencies — but all have told me that the Department of Justice is preventing them from speaking to me directly on this issue. Is the Attorney General preventing agencies from answering Members’ questions?
This is not the transparency and accountability the president promised, nor is it the open and constructive relationship he claims to want with Congress. This is not change. This is an administration intent on keeping Congress and the American people in the dark about critically-important national security issues.
I have written Attorney General Holder two letters asking a series of questions about the transfer of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The first was dated March 13; and the second was dated April 23. I have yet to receive a response to either. My office has been told by the White House that some of the questions that I have asked can’t even be answered.
When Attorney General Holder appeared before the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee last month, he pointedly said he would not play “hide and seek” with information. What is he hiding? The Attorney General, in my opinion, is ‘slow rolling’ information as terrorist detainees are released into the United States.
On Sunday, “60 Minutes” had a disturbing segment which touched on the radicalization of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The story indicated that in Saudi Arabia alone, of the 117 men returned from Guantanamo, 11 have shown up again on Saudi Arabia’s most wanted terrorist list.
I fear political expediency may be clouding judgment. That is inexcusable in a post-9/11 world. The American people have a right to know everything there is to know about these people who could potentially be released into our neighborhoods. The stakes are simply too high for the administration to reasonably think that the American people should simply take their word for it that these men pose no security threat.