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Home / Press Release / Retired Military Leaders Urge Obama to Transfer Cleared Detainees from Guantanamo
April 22, 2015

Retired Military Leaders Urge Obama to Transfer Cleared Detainees from Guantanamo

Washington, D.C.—National security experts welcomed today's reports suggesting that the Obama Administration intends to move forward with the transfer of ten detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, calling the news a positive indication that the administration is working within its authority to close the prison. Major General Michael R. Lehnert (ret.), the first commander of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter (ret.), who served as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy and has observed pre-trial hearings in the military commissions case of  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 defendants at Guantanamo Bay, have repeatedly asserted that closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay is essential for reestablishing our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and protecting national security.

“President Obama can, and should, use his authority to transfer detainees who have been cleared by a well-constructed interagency process. It is in our national interest. Guantanamo has long been used by repressive governments to deflect criticism of their own policies and as a recruiting tool by violent extremists,” said Major General Lehnert (ret.). “I applaud Secretary Ash Carter and Special Envoy Paul Lewis for their hard work, and I am confident they can finish the job. I encourage Congress to work with them to close the prison.”

Fifty-seven of the detainees still held at Guantanamo Bay have already been cleared for transfer by all national security and intelligence agencies of the U.S. government and should be transferred without delay. 

“With the right leadership and a strong plan, Guantanamo can and should be closed,” said Rear Admiral Guter. “I believe that President Obama will act in the best interest of national security and re-energize his administration’s efforts.”

In the past year, the administration transferred 32 detainees from Guantanamo Bay, marking significant progress towards closing the prison. The vast majority of the remaining detainees who have not been cleared for transfer will face Periodic Review Board hearings. Human Rights First notes that the administration must increase the pace of transfers and these hearings if the prison is to be closed by the end of President Obama’s term in office.

General Lehnert and Admiral Guter are part of a group of nonpartisan generals and admirals who have long advocated for closing Guantanamo. This year they have urged Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to make closing Guantanamo a priority during his tenure at the Pentagon.

For more information or to speak with Major General Lehnert or Rear Admiral Guter, contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319.