WASHINGTON – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., this week urged the White House to appoint an official to spearhead an interagency effort to oversee the process of relocating detainees at Guantanamo Bay who have been cleared for transfer. Levin fought for a national security waiver that provides for the transfer of detainees in appropriate cases. More than 80 detainees who have been cleared for transfer are still awaiting departure from Guantanamo. Expediting this process is critical to advancing the goal of closing GITMO, as the president has called for.
The text of Levin’s letter to the White House follows:
May 6, 2013
Ms. Kathryn Ruemmler
Assistant to the President and
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Ms. Ruemmler:
At a press conference last week, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to close the detention facility at Guantanamo (GITMO) because, as he pointed out, it is expensive, inefficient, damaging to the United States’ international standing, reduces the cooperation of our allies in countering terrorism, and serves as a recruiting tool for extremists. The President said he had asked his staff to review all options for addressing the GITMO issue and expressed the desire to re-engage with Congress on this.
I recognize that Congress has made the process of relocating GITMO detainees to third countries more difficult by imposing certification requirements on such transfers. However, more than a year ago, I successfully fought for a national security waiver that provides a clear route for the transfer of detainees to third countries in appropriate cases, i.e., to make sure the certification requirements do not constitute an effective prohibition.
I urge the President to appoint an official inside the White House to spearhead an interagency effort to determine which of the more than eighty detainees who have already been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force meet the certification (and waiver) requirements, and to actively work for their transfer. High level leadership on detainee transfers is critical to advancing the goal of closing GITMO.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.