Retired Admirals, Generals Urge Obama to Transfer Cleared Guantanamo Detainees
Washington, DC – Fifteen of the nation’s most respected retired admirals and generals today urged President Obama to transfer Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release to their home or to third countries, an option that is available to him under new guidelines contained in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The letter comes three years after several of the retired military leaders issuing today’s call stood behind President Obama on his second full day in office as he signed executive orders to shutter the Guantanamo detention facility and end the use of torture. “We recognize the political opposition you have faced in attempting to honor your commitment. … However, despite these restrictions, we are asking you to act within the discretion available to you to move our nation forward in closing Guantanamo once and for all,” the group wrote in a letter authored during a meeting this week in Washington, DC. In their letter to President Obama, the retired admirals and generals outline next steps he should take to fulfill his promise to close the Guantanamo detention facility, noting, “In the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress authorized new guidelines for transferring detainees out of Guantanamo. Under these guidelines, your administration can transfer detainees cleared for release to their home or to third countries if the Secretary of Defense issues a waiver in the interest of our national security demonstrating that measures will be taken to substantially mitigate the risk of transfer. We ask that you direct your administration to exercise this authority immediately and fully to demonstrate your good faith commitment to closing Guantanamo. Doing so is the first step among many needed to finally close this dark chapter in our history.” The letter’s signatories are part of a larger bipartisan group of retired generals and admirals who speak out against torture and work to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group formed over concerns about the treatment of enemy prisoners in U.S. custody after learning of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. In 2008, they shared their insights with eight Presidential candidates from both parties that torture does immense harm to the reputation of the United States and undermines efforts to combat terrorism. President Obama was among the candidates with whom they met. He later made the closure of Guantanamo Bay one of his signature promises of the 2008 presidential campaign.