Thursday, June 11, 2009

Former Commander of USS Cole on Future of Yemeni GITMO Detainees

Washington, DC – Kirk S. Lippold, Former USS Cole Commander and Senior Military Fellow at Military Families United, released the following statement concerning the recently reported news that the Obama Administration is nearing a deal to send a considerable portion of the estimated 100 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi “terrorist rehabilitation centers.”

“The impact of turning Yemeni detainees over to either Saudi Arabia or Yemen is an unacceptable compromise to our national security. Saudi Arabia has proven ineffective in rehabilitating terrorists and Yemen has consistently proven to be an untrustworthy and unreliable partner in the war on terror.

Transferring Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia will inevitably lead to more terrorists on the battlefield. It will endanger the lives of our military for a second time. Currently, one in seven former GITMO detainees has rejoined the fight. If President Obama transfers these detainees to Saudi Arabia or Yemen, he is putting the national security interests of the United States second to nations that still form the cradle of al Qaeda recruiting efforts and their campaign of terror. In addition, this transfer says to our troops and their families that the campaign promise to close GITMO is more important than their safety and their lives.

The lenient treatment of those who attacked USS Cole is the starkest evidence of the Yemeni government’s complicity in supporting those who carried out the attack. The lead co-conspirator, al Badawi, is currently held in minimal security, if in jail at all. The government’s joke of a trial, where he received the death penalty and then escaped twice before being recaptured, demonstrates their inability to even wage the most basic war tactics against al Qaeda. The USS Cole families and many of America’s military families have already paid too dear a price in the war on terror. With each detainee transfer, it becomes more and more evident that the President’s priorities do not lie with our men and women in uniform and those who bear the burden and the sacrifice of the War on Terror – the families.”