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April 25, 2013

Feinstein Praised for Pushing Transfer of Cleared Guantanamo Detainees

Washington, DC — Human Rights First today praised Senator Feinstein’s letter to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon calling for the transfer of cleared Guantanamo detainees. The organization notes that Feinstein’s call reflects a growing consensus that the Obama Administration should do more to shutter the facility.

Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn said, “President Obama has the authority to transfer the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer by the security and intelligence agencies.  The President should order the transfers consistent with current law and he should charge a senior official with the responsibility to close Guantanamo and coordinate inter-agency response. The administration should also revisit the self-imposed ban on transfer of Yemen detainees.”

Senator Feinstein’s letter comes as the administration acknowledges that 94 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are on hunger strike.  General John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee in March that, “They [the detainees] had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated apparently … when the president backed off, at least (that’s) their perception, of closing the facility.”

Senator Feinstein told Mr. Donilon in her letter,  “I would like to offer my assistance to help the Administration transition each of the 86 ‘cleared’ detainees….  Additionally, efforts to transfer these 86 detainees can only be successful if the Administration has someone in charge of resettlement of detainees.”

Representative Buck McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told The New York Times today that, “The administration hasn’t taken any steps toward meeting the requirements of having anybody released.”

Osburn concluded, “It is time for Congress and the administration to stop pointing their fingers at each other, and for President Obama to make good on his promise to close Guantanamo.  It is unconscionable that we are holding men in prison, denying them liberty, some for more than ten years, when they have been cleared for transfer.”

For more information or to speak with Osburn, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.