Burr, Ayotte, Mccain, Graham Intoduce Legislation Restricting Transfers Of Guantanamo Bay Detainees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today introduced legislation that would restrict transfers of detainees from Guantanamo Bay in order to best protect Americans and our national security.  The Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act of 2015  would suspend international transfers of high and medium risk detainees, prohibit transfers of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, extend the current prohibition on transfers to the U.S., and increase transparency regarding risk assessments of the remaining Guantanamo detainees. 

“Instead of working with Congress to develop common-sense policies to enable our national security personnel to detain and interrogate terrorists, this Administration continues to irresponsibly release detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Many of these detainees have returned to the battlefields from which they came and are looking for ways to kill Americans and our allies. The detainees that remain at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst, and their continued release will only further damage our national security.  Safety is my utmost concern, and a two year prohibition on transferring the detainees with the highest risk should give Congress and the Administration time to develop a long-term plan for keeping this country safe,” said Chairman Burr.

Click here to watch Chairman Burr’s comments

“The barbaric attacks in France underscore the threat posed by Islamist terrorism and the need for a common sense detention and interrogation policy to gather the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks.  Unfortunately, to fulfill a misguided campaign promise, the administration seems to be more interested in emptying and closing Guantanamo, rather than protecting the national security interests of the United States and the lives of Americans,” said Senator Ayotte. “This legislation would prevent this administration from transferring the most dangerous detainees to other countries and would prevent detainee transfers to Yemen—the headquarters of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and one of the most dangerous countries on earth.  This legislation would also require greater transparency from the administration regarding what terrorist activities detainees have previously been engaged in and what terrorist groups they are affiliated with.  When the administration transfers a Guantanamo detainee, especially those formerly assessed as a high or medium risk for reengagement in terrorism, the onus is on the administration to explain openly to the American people what has changed.  It is a simple matter of transparency and honesty with the American people.”  


 The bill:

  • Section 2:  Extends the Prohibition on Construction or Modification of Facilities in the U.S. Extends, for two years from enactment, the prohibition on construction or modification of facilities in the U.S. to house current Guantanamo detainees.  
  • Section 3:  Extends the Prohibition on Transfers to U.S. Extends, for two years from enactment, the standard prohibition on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.  The provision would permit the administration to place new detainees at Guantanamo for law of war detention and interrogation and then bring them to the United States. 
  • Section 4:  Suspends International Transfers of High and Medium Risk Detainees.  For two years from enactment, prohibits international transfers of Guantanamo detainees who have ever been designated or assessed by Joint Task Force Guantanamo to be a high or medium risk to the U.S., our interests, or our allies.
  • Section 5:  Prohibits Transfers to Yemen.  For two years from enactment, prohibits the transfer of any Guantanamo detainees to Yemen.
  • Section 6:  Establishes a Higher Standard for International Transfers.  Repeals the current international transfer provision (Section 1035 of FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)) the administration has used to transfer Guantanamo detainees and replaces it with the tough but reasonable standards from Section 1028 of the FY 2013 NDAA, which includes a national security waiver.  If the administration can meet these commonsense requirements, over the next two years, the administration could transfer detainees internationally (but not to Yemen) who have never been designated or assessed as a high or medium risk to the U.S., our interests, or our allies.
  • Section 7:  Increases Transparency.  Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an unclassified report providing details on current Guantanamo detainees who have at any point been designated or assessed by Joint Task Force Guantanamo as a high or medium risk threat to the U.S., its interests, or its allies.