GOP Seeks Halt as 5 More Gitmo Inmates Freed

Transfers to Estonia, Oman bring population down to 122
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2015 4:45 AM CST
Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain discuss Guantanamo Bay at a press conference in Washington earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – The release of five more detainees yesterday brought the inmate population at Guantanamo Bay down to 122—and brought President Obama a little closer to finally fulfilling his promise to close the detention center—but the transfer came just a day after Republicans proposed legislation to stop the releases. The GOP senators, including John McCain, say the detention center is necessary and after a recent surge, they want a moratorium on most releases, the New York Times reports. "Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo," Sen. Kelly Ayotte told reporters, warning of new terrorist threats and accusing the administration of "irresponsibly" freeing detainees who "returned to the battlefields from which they came."

The five men released yesterday, however, were cleared for release in 2009 by the national security team that reviews Guantanamo cases, the AP reports. All five were captured in Pakistan as al-Qaeda suspects and arrived at the Guantanamo center soon after it opened 13 years ago this week—including one who was sent there when he was 17. He was released to Estonia, while the other four were sent to Oman. The men are all Yemeni nationals—as are 47 of the 54 Guantanamo inmates cleared to leave—but the security situation in their homeland makes the administration very reluctant to transfer detainees there.

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