Opposition Grows to Transferring Gitmo Detainees to Yemen

(AP)
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has joined Republicans in calling for a halt to planned transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen in the wake of revelations of ties between the Christmas day bombing attempt and terrorists in that country.

"Guantanamo detainees should not be released to Yemen at this time," Feinstein said in a statement. "It is too unstable."

Last week the Department of Justice announced that it had transferred six detainees to the government of Yemen. As the Washington Post notes, former Gitmo detainees in Yemen "have led and fueled the growing assertiveness of the al Qaeda branch that claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing."

There are 80 Yemenis left at the Guantanamo facility, almost half the remaining prison population. The Obama administration has already acknowledged that it will miss its one-year deadline for shuttering the prison; the emergence of Yemen as a flashpoint will likely further complicate their efforts.

Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, exchanged e-mails with a radical Yemeni-American cleric. The accused murderer of an Army recruiter in Arkansas in June had spent time in the country. The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was stationed in Yemen when it was the target of a suicide attack in 2000.

In September, General David Petraeus said that Yemen has been the dark spot in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda and that the country had become the headquarters of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

On Tuesday, as The Hill reports, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) sent a letter to President Obama asking him not to transfer detainees to Yemen. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), meanwhile, said doing so "threatens the safety and security of the U.S. people." Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has said the administration should "rethink" the policy.

Two of the former detainees tied to the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen were released under the Bush administration to Saudi Arabia and then traveled to Yemen, according to the Post.

"The Bush administration made a mistake - they experimented," Bond told The Hill. "Why you wouldn't learn from your mistake is beyond me. Why the administration would continue to do things that have proven to be disastrous is incomprehensible."

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