The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee objected Wednesday to the Pentagon’s plan for an upcoming transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees.
The detainees’ identities remains classified, but Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon said in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel obtained by The Associated Press that moving them out of the detention center for terrorism suspects “raises considerable questions and concerns about the risk to Americans.”
Administration officials have been working on the transfer of four Afghan detainees from the detention center at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba back to their home country, where U.S. troops remain deployed amid a resurgent Taliban threat.
But McKeon's office and administration officials would not comment on whether the Pentagon has sent classified notification to Congress that the transfer has been approved, which is required 30 days before a detainee can leave.
McKeon pointed out to Hagel in Wednesday's letter that Congress allows the Pentagon to transfer Guantánamo prisoners when the threat posed by detainees has been mitigated and the transfer is in the national security interests of the United States. “It is inconceivable to me how the proposed transfer of these detainees could possibly meet this standard,” the California Republican wrote.
McKeon asked the Pentagon in the fall to suspend transfers amid the threat posed by Islamic State militants. But President Barack Obama wants detainees moved out so he can achieve his goal of closing the detention center.