The Obama administration believes that about 12 detainees released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan, killing about a half-dozen Americans.
The Obama administration believes that about 12 detainees released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan, killing about a half-dozen Americans, according to current and former U.S. officials.
In March, a senior Pentagon official made a startling admission to lawmakers when he acknowledged that former Guantanamo inmates were responsible for the deaths of Americans overseas.
The official, Paul Lewis, who oversees Guantanamo issues at the Defense Department, provided no details, and the Obama administration has since declined to elaborate publicly on his statement because the intelligence behind it is classified.
But The Washington Post has learned additional details about the suspected attacks, including the approximate number of detainees and victims involved and the fact that, while most of the incidents were directed at military personnel, the dead also included one American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, declined to give an exact number for Americans killed or wounded in the attacks, saying the figure is classified.
Lewis’s statement had drawn scrutiny on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers see the violence against Americans as further evidence that the president’s plans for closing the prison are misguided and dangerous. They also describe the administration’s unwillingness to release information about the attacks as another instance of its use of high levels of classification to avoid discussion of a politically charged issue that could heighten political opposition to its plans.
“There appears to be a consistent and concerted effort by the Administration to prevent Americans from knowing the truth regarding the terrorist activities and affiliations of past and present Guantanamo detainees,” Ayotte wrote in a letter to Obama this week, urging him to declassify information about how many U.S. and NATO personnel have been killed by former detainees.
Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has also written legislation that would require greater transparency surrounding the transfer of Guantanamo detainees.
Royce and Ayotte are among the lawmakers who opposed a road map for closing the prison that the White House submitted to Congress earlier this year. That plan would require moving some detainees to U.S. prisons and resettling the rest overseas.
“The administration is releasing dangerous terrorists to countries that can’t control them, and misleading Congress in the process,” Royce said in a statement. “The president should halt detainee transfers immediately and be honest with the American people.”
Administration officials say that recidivism rates for released Guantanamo inmates remain far lower than those for federal offenders. According to a recent study, almost half of all federal offenders released in 2005 were “rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions.” Among former Guantanamo detainees, the total number of released detainees who are suspected or confirmed of reengaging is about 30 percent, according to U.S. intelligence.
Nearly 21 percent of those released prior to 2009 have reengaged in militancy, officials say, compared with about 4.5 percent of the 158 released by Obama.
Most of those suspected of re-engagement are Afghan, reflecting the large numbers of Afghans detained after the Sept. 11 attacks and the ongoing war there. More than 200 Afghan prisoners have been repatriated from the prison.