Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

15 Guantanamo Prisoners Transfer to UAE but Debate Goes On

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

15 Guantanamo Prisoners Transfer to UAE but Debate Goes On

Article excerpt

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that 15 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay have been released into custody of the United Arab Emirates, the largest transfer during President Obama's administration and a milestone in his effort to close the high-security, offshore prison.

The release of 12 Yemenis and 3 Afghans brings the number in detainment at the prison in Cuba to 61, the BBC reported, but efforts to close the prison entirely demand congressional approval and remain no less controversial than the prison itself.

This represents a major success for Mr. Obama, for whom closing the prison was a campaign promise. He believes that the facility where suspected terrorists have been held for years without trial and were previously interrogated via waterboarding, harms anti- terror work in other countries.

"The continued operation of the detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists," said Lee Wolosky, the State Department's special envoy for closing the Guantanamo detention center, according to Reuters. "The support of our friends and allies - like the UAE - is critical to our achieving this shared goal."

It is also the second time the UAE has resettled detainees from the prison. The first transfer appears to have gone smoothly, suggesting the country might prove willing to take more.

"From what we've learned, they've been treated pretty well," Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the British advocacy group that represented a Yemeni prisoner released previously told The Associated Press. "They've been banned from traveling and any meaningful communication.... They've actually been OK. Arabic is the main language and its pretty close to home."

Republicans and some Democrats in the United States, however, say the international outreach is not worth the risk to US security that comes from releasing the type of prisoners who have been held at the naval base. …

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