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Ernst Co-Sponsors Detainee Transfer Transparency Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), along with 12 additional senators today introduced the Detainee Transfer Transparency Act, legislation that would require the Secretary of Defense to make available to the public the intended transfer or release of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at least 21 days in advance. Cosponsors at the time of introduction include Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). 

“The Detainee Transfer Transparency Act works to prevent the Obama administration from transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees onto U.S. soil and provides more public oversight on any agreements made with foreign nations,” said Ernst. “In addition, this legislation takes the necessary steps to combat President Obama’s misguided and reckless efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, prevents Cuba from gaining control of the facility, and increases overall transparency by ensuring any intended transfers to foreign nations are made public.”

“By law, the administration is required to give Congress 30-days advance notice of the transfer or release of terrorists held at Guantanamo, but this information is kept classified, leaving our hands tied in warning the public of irresponsible and dangerous releases,” said Inhofe. “A terrorist's previous leadership ranking or active network hasn’t stopped President Obama from sending these individuals back to the fight, as we saw with the Taliban Five. If he is unashamedly trying to seal his legacy item to close Gitmo, then he should fully communicate to the public who these terrorists are and the justification for their release or the restrictions on their transfers. Not only should Americans be warned in advance of the administration’s intentions with these terrorists, but so should citizens of the countries in which the administration is sending these individuals. With 89 terrorists remaining in Gitmo, most of which have been labeled ‘too dangerous to release,’ my bill will give Americans  a greater voice in how an administration is handling enemy combats while our country remains in a global war against terrorism.”

“One of the most important things we can do is make sure we don’t release known terrorists who will return to the battlefield and kill more Americans,” said Barrasso. “More than a hundred terrorists that have been released have already returned to the battlefield. The terrorists who remain at Gitmo are the most dangerous terrorists there are. This bill will make sure the Obama administration is honest and up front with Americans on how and where they plan to release these terrorists in the future.”

“The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are hardened terrorists who seek to do us harm and their release puts our national security in jeopardy,” said Cotton. “If President Obama insists upon putting our national security at risk and closing Guantanamo Bay, the American people and our foreign partners deserve to have the resources and  information they need to keep themselves safe."

“Radical Islamic terrorists who seek to kill Americans should not be transferred and allowed to continue their efforts, particularly behind the backs of American citizens,” said Cruz. “When the Obama administration intends to transfer terrorists to foreign countries, despite the repeated demonstration of their willingness to reengage in hostilities against the United States, the American people have every right to know who and why. The security of our people, not political expediency, should guide decisions regarding prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Ensuring that our national security interests are being protected is only prudent, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the Senate to stop this dangerous ploy.”

“This bill closes an important loophole in the law. Under current law, before Guantanamo Bay detainees are been released, the American people are not informed of where the detainees will be sent, under what conditions, or what threat they will pose,” said Hatch. “This dangerous situation has led to numerous examples of detainees being sent to countries with uncertain security infrastructures, such as Uruguay and Senegal. Our legislation ensures the American people know exactly what the Obama administration is planning to do and affording them an opportunity to petition their elected representatives to prevent it.”

“If the Obama administration is going to keep working to close Guantanamo Bay despite the dangers of doing so, Americans and innocent civilians around the world deserve to know the truth about who the detainees at this facility are and where they are being sent,” said Isakson. “By requiring the U.S. Secretary of Defense to make available to the public the intended transfer or release of detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility at least 21 days in advance, the Detainee Transfer Transparency Act will do just what it says. It will shed light on the information this administration has tried to keep from Americans who are concerned about the dangers posed by the release of these hardened terrorists.”

“Maintaining our facilities at Guantanamo Bay and the ability to detain international terrorists is extremely important for our national security,” said Lankford. “This bill takes the additional important step of prohibiting President Obama from closing the facility. The bill prohibits any terrorists from being transferred to the United States and requires the Obama Administration to be transparent and provide public notice of any release of a terrorist to another country. Almost one in three terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight. My trip, last year, to Guantanamo Bay deepened my understanding of the need for this detention facility and the role it plays in our national security. We must not weaken our resolve to confront terrorism and protect American citizens.”

“Unfortunately, this administration is putting politics ahead of our national security through their efforts to deplete the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and eventually fulfill a campaign promise of closing the facility altogether,” said Moran. “The White House should be transparent with Congress and the American people about the detainees they transfer to foreign countries and the risk they pose to our national security. The administration continues to look for ways to work around Congress in a misguided effort to close GITMO, and this bill would prohibit their ability to relinquish control of the facility to Cuba. I will continue fighting to keep these dangerous detainees at GITMO.”

“The American people deserve to not only know when dangerous terrorists are being released from Guantanamo Bay, they also need to know what deals are being made with foreign countries to accept these people,” said Rounds. “The risk that these terrorists will return to the battlefield and kill Americans must take priority over the administration’s determination to fulfill a campaign promise. Additionally, the bill prohibits giving our strategically important base at Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba and would bar any terrorist detainees there from being transferred to prisons in the United States.”

“The American public should have as much information as possible about the terrorist detainees the Obama Administration is seeking to release around the world,” said Rubio. “We know from Obama Administration officials that released detainees have gone on to kill Americans and routinely reengage in terrorist activities.  By mindlessly adhering to his campaign promise to close the detention center at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, President Obama is endangering America’s national security and burdening the U.S. intelligence community with the difficult challenge of tracking released detainees that shouldn’t be free in the first place.”

“Detainees at Guantanamo Bay aren’t common criminals, they’re hardened terrorists who are intent on doing us harm,” said Thune. “Unfortunately, President Obama has chosen to put campaign promises above national security and continues to sidestep existing restrictions – that he signed into law – on the release or transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The president should not be playing politics with the security of the American people. We must not relent in our effort to protect Americans from threats posed by known terrorists being released to conduct further atrocities, which is why it’s so important we pass this common-sense legislation without delay.”

“The Obama administration has previously released terrorists from Guantanamo who then returned to the battlefield to fight against America and our allies,” said Tillis. “The President is now determined to release more enemies of the United States, regardless of Congressional intent or the potential impact on our national security.  This bill requires the administration to disclose information about these dangerous prisoners prior to their release or transfer, information that the American people deserve to know.”

The Detainee Transfer Transparency Act would require the public notice from the Secretary of Defense to include: the name of the individual, the location to which the individual will be transferred or released, and the current and past risk profile of the individual. If the detainee is being transferred to another location, then the notice must also include a summary of the agreement made with that location and list actions being taken to mitigate the risk of another transfer or the release of the detainee. 

The legislation would also prohibit closure of Guantanamo Bay and prohibit the transfer of detainees to the United States.

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