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article imageOp-Ed: US House vote tries to block Gitmo transfers to Yemen

By Ken Hanly     Jun 16, 2013 in Politics
Washington - On Friday (June 14) the US House of Representatives voted to prohibit use of federal funds to transfer detainees to Yemen from Guantanamo Bay,
The move will make it more difficult for Obama to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay a goal that Obama reaffirmed in a speech last month. He also lifted the ban on transferring those cleared for release to Yemen. Fifty-six of the 86 prisoners cleared for release are from Yemen.
Republican Jackie Walorski from Indiana introduced the amendment as part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill. Walorski said: “It makes no sense to send terrorists to a country that has an active terrorist network,”
The amendment passed 236 to 188.
Democrat Adam Smith of Washington said:"We cannot warehouse these people forever, We need to give the president options, not restrict him." The US can warehouse these individuals indefinitely and that seems to be what will happen, as new expenditures are planned to upgrade facilities at Guantanamo.
There have been other restrictions added to the defense authorization bill that will also stymie any attempts by Obama to close the base. The new bill contains the same provisions as in earlier bills that restrict Obama from moving detainees to the US or to build any facilities in the US to house the detainees. Among the few Republicans supporting Obama's attempt to close Guantanamo is John McCain, Republican Senator from Arizona. Although the White House threatens to veto the bill because of the restrictions, this probably will not happen as Obama has signed the bill in previous years with similar restrictions. A House amendment by Democrat Adam Smith to ease the restrictions on transferring prisoners to the US was defeated by a 174-249 vote.
There have been many demonstrations in Yemen demanding that Yemeni inmates of Guantanamo be repatriated. President Hadi, a staunch US ally strongly supports these demands. He has also promised to construct a facility for rehabilitation of those repatriated. Since the returned are cleared for transfer, the whole idea of rehabilitation is a bit odd. Perhaps it is the US agents who transferred these Yemenis to Guantanamo and have kept them under lock and key with no charges being laid are the ones that need rehabilitation.
An article at mondoweiss relates the stories of several relatives of detained Yemenis that are truly tragic "A:wda is 12 years old and has never seen her father. Her mother was pregnant in 2001 when her father, Abdulrahman Al Shubati, traveled to Pakistan to earn extra money as a teacher of the Qur’an. However, he suddenly disappeared without a trace and her mother gave birth alone. It wasn’t until a year later that mother and daughter learned what had happened to him: a caller from the Red Cross announced that Abdulrahman had been imprisoned in Guantanamo. In Arabic, the little girl’s name means “come back.”"
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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