U.S. officials have confirmed that two militant fighters released from the top-security Guantanamo Bay detention camp have returned to terrorism.
Since Obama's inauguration in 2009, nine of the 161 inmates released from Guantanamo have rejoined their former militant organizations, according to the Office of Director of National Intelligence, Reuters reports. In comparison, when Obama's predecessor George Bush was in office, 113 of the 532 released from the prison returned to terror groups.
Guantanamo has consistently received heaps of backlash from activist groups as many of the facility's prisoners are held without formal charges and rarely receive trial. Pres. Obama has struggled to make good on his promises to close the Cuban prison for good. Despite releasing a plan this year to shut it down, he is faced with internal opposition from Republican lawmakers and even some of his fellow Democrats.
The news that two more released inmates have rejoined militant organizations came just as the House voted to block President Obama from releasing any more detainees from Guantanamo, according to The Washington Post.
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House Republicans were able to pass the bill 244 to 174 in hopes that the president would keep all inmates within the walls of the high security prison until the United States comes up with a new, stronger defense policy bill.
However, the new legislation is doubtful to become law. House Republicans recognize that the bill is unlikely to pass through the Senate and, even if it does, the president has already threatened a veto.
Obama has been transferring detainees to third party countries in what Republicans see as an attempt to close Guantanamo. As more and more inmates are leaving the facility, some worry that the inmate count will become so low that it will make no sense to keep the prison open at all.
The Post reports that the president just approved his administration's largest single transfer of detainees, authorizing 15 inmates to leave Guantanamo for the United Arab Emirates. With this new transfer, the prison's population will be down to 61 inmates.
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Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski, who is also the cosponsor of the bill, says that Obama's transfer policy is reckless.
“[This] is more about the president running out of time to fulfill his campaign promise than about the national security interest of the United States [and it] puts Americans at risk," she said, according to the Post.
Democrats have countered these accusations by saying they have no intention of releasing or transferring the most dangerous detainees. They also claim that by keeping inmates in the prison without trial, it only fuels anti-U.S. sentiment and terrorist propaganda.