Senators Perdue, Cotton Call For Full Declassification Review of Guantanamo Detainees’ Terrorist Activity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Tom Cotton (R-AR), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Director of National Intelligence to complete a declassification review of intelligence reports on previous terrorist activities of former Guantanamo Bay prisoners and make public information on any of the released or transferred detainees’ past terror-related behavior.

“We are in the midst of a war on terror, but to make good on a political promise, President Obama has spent the last year trying to empty out our nation’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” said Senator Perdue. “The President has suggested that ‘only a handful’ of Guantanamo detainees will return to a life of terrorism, when we know about 30 percent of released detainees are either known or suspected to have reengaged in terrorist activity. Before releasing another detainee from Guantanamo, the American people need to know about the past behavior of those who have already been released or transferred. The Obama Administration needs to stand accountable for the types of terrorists it’s releasing from Guantanamo. That’s why Senator Cotton and I have requested a full review and declassification of intelligence reports to be made available to the public immediately.”

“The detainees leaving Guantanamo Bay are hardened terrorists and their release puts U.S. lives and our national security interests at risk. The numbers don't lie: almost one in three detainees released from Guantanamo Bay are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight. Most recently, we've seen reports of former detainees joining forces with the Islamic State. Regrettably, many of these transfers are hashed out behind closed doors,” said Senator Cotton. “This is unacceptable. The American people and the nations accepting these hardened terrorists have a right to know what’s at risk when these individuals are released, and Senator Perdue and I are committed to ensuring this by requiring a complete declassification review of the intelligence on their past terrorist activities.”

A recent intelligence report revealed that 196 of the 653 former detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of returning to the fight, and recent estimates show that 122 of these detainees are not in any sort of restrictive custody. Currently, there are fewer than 90 terrorists incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. This includes high-level terrorists, whom military officials have determined to be too dangerous to transfer to other countries.