The White House soon fired back after incoming President-elect Donald Trump urged a halt in the transfer of detainees from the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, vowing to move ahead with its plan to liberate more prisoners in the fewer than 20 days President Barack Obama has left in office.
Obama revealed last month that he would reduce the population of Guantánamo, also known as Gitmo, by 19 to 40, a plan that the White House suggests he intends to keep.
Of the 59 prisoners still held by the military, nearly half (27) are considered “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release, and 22 have been cleared for release by Obama’s multi-agency parole-style board known as the Periodic Review Board (PRB). The PRB has made the decision in the past to transfer out prisoners who had already been designated too dangerous to liberate.
In other words, the “forever prisoner” designation has not prevented the Obama administration from releasing prisoners.
The remaining 10 prisoners are still undergoing war crimes proceedings at military commissions, including six who are facing death-penalty tribunals, according to the Miami Herald.
“There should be no further releases from Gitmo,” wrote incoming President-elect Donald Trump on Twitter on Tuesday. “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”
There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017
Just hours after Trump’s tweet, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said, “I would expect, at this point, additional transfers.”
President-elect Trump pledged to “load [Guantanamo] up with some bad dudes” once he assumes the role of U.S. commander-in-chief.
Asked if the incoming Republican president would impact Obama’s approach to Gitmo, “No, it will not,” said the White House press secretary.
“He will have an opportunity to implement the policy that he believes is most effective when he takes office on January 20,” he added.
According to the latest estimate by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), 30 percent of Guantánamo detainees who have been released under both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush are suspected or confirmed to have re-engaged in terrorist activities.
Some of the liberated Gitmo prisoners are believed to have American blood on their hands.
Of the remaining detainees still at Gitmo, some are from war-ravaged Yemen, where there is no stable government and al-Qaeda is strong and controls large swathes of territory.