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New SecDef To Stand Firm Against White House Pressure On Emptying Gitmo

Yesterday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) asked Ash Carter, Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, if he would stand firm against White House pressure in emptying our holding facilities located at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). Sen. Ayotte noted that it’s been confirmed 107 former Gitmo detainees have returned to their terrorist activities, with another 77 suspected of doing so as well.


“I would ask you to tell us, and to make a commitment to this committee that you will not succumb to any pressure by this administration to increase the pace of transfers from Guantanamo. Will you commit to that?” she asked Carter.


This comes after former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he felt pressured by the Obama administration to increase the pace of Gitmo transfers. In an interview with CNN’s Barbara Starr last week, Hagel mentioned there were a lot of conversations with the White House over this area, but he wasn’t “fazed” by the pressure:

"Not everyone at the White House has agreed with me," said Hagel of his methodology for deciding on detainee releases.

Disagreements between Hagel and officials in the President's inner circle have been widely reported during his short tenure as secretary of defense. But in his interview with CNN, Hagel spoke with uncharacteristic candor about friction related to the prisoner release.

"We've had a lot of conversations," Hagel said.

"With the White House?" Starr pushed back.

"Yes," said Hagel. "And Congress. And the press."

But Hagel also said he isn't fazed by the pressure on the issue of detainee transfers.

"Because I have the responsibility and I play my own game here," he emphasized. "And that is because, by law, I am the one official in government charged with certification of release of detainees. I take that responsibility very seriously."


The renewed attention on Gitmo comes after it was discovered that one of the five detainees we swapped for the release of alleged deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have returned to his former line of work by contacting suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, according to CNN.

This has become a point of embarrassment for the administration, which already has been seen as being “asleep at the switch” when it comes to foreign policy. Katie mentioned how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured the American public that these five men weren’t a threat to the United States because they’re in Qatar.

So far, the administration has been hilariously trying to say how the Taliban isn’t a terrorist organization.

In the meantime, Ash Carter, who is expected to be confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense, said he understands the responsibilities of the position; and he knows the consequences that our men and women in uniform face if they’re confronted by a former detainee.

“I’ll play it absolutely straight,” he said.


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