Defense Dept. Docs Express Concerns about Release of Guantanamo Bay Prisoners

Thomson Correctional Center, Gitmo detainees
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The Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill., will house detainees who are now being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP File Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Washington ( – Pentagon documents made public on Wednesday by a government watchdog group show the Bush administration’s concerns that prisoners released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility would put American lives at risk.

The documents, all from the Bush era, come at a time when Obama administration officials have given mixed messages about closing the facility, which President Obama signed an executive order to do in 2009.

Among the documents is a Feb. 4, 2004 Department of Defense (DOD) memo warning of potential problems with the release of Gitmo detainees.

“There is substantial risk that detainees at Guantanamo, upon release, would set out to kill Americans or other innocent civilians around the world,” the DOD memo said.

“Releases are not without risk if the individuals decide to assume fighting against us. Even though we have been careful and thorough in our screening, we now believe that several of the released detainees have returned to fight against the U.S. and coalition forces,” it added.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Last September, reported that 18 Gitmo released detainees had returned to Afghanistan, according to records obtained through a FOIA.

In February, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “I would just point out that the president remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because as our military commanders have made clear, it’s a national security priority to do so. I don’t have anything beyond that on it for you.”

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On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “I don’t know,” when asked when Gitmo would be closed, as he testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science.

On Feb. 18, 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “The prospects for closing Guantanamo as best I can tell are very, very low given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress.”

But these newly released documents reflect the dangers of releasing prisoners, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“These documents provide further evidence that closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp would be a dangerous and disastrous decision,” Fitton said in a statement. “The fact is that the Obama administration has completely mishandled the Guantanamo Bay facility from the outset.

The intelligence community is shouting from the rooftops about the dangers of hastily closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing terrorists into the public. And these documents show that the government has known for years that terrorists released from Gitmo commit more terrorism and fight and kill our troops – yet both the Bush administration and Obama administration keep releasing terrorists.”

Source material can be found at this site.

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