The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Monday announced the transfer [press release] of 15 Guantanamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Twelve of the detainees were from Yemen, and the other three were from Afghanistan. Six of the detainees had been approved for release since 2009, and the others were cleared for release more recently. Thirteen of the detainees had never faced any charges, and two of the Afghan detainees had their military commission charges drops. This marks the largest single detainee transfer so far, as the Obama administration works toward its goal of shuttering the detention center. After these transfers, there are 61 detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
A US Senator last week released a Pentagon Report [JURIST report] detailing the profiles of those currently detained in and recently released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) concluded that closing the facility would not be in the US’ best interests and would pose a safety risk. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Fox News in January that US President Barack Obama intends to fulfill [JURIST report] his promise to close the Guantanamo detention facility before leaving office. Last November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA), which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it could delay his plan to close the prison. The NDAA comes after the DOD said [JURIST report] they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama’s efforts to close the facility in October. The Guantanamo Review Task Force was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Obama was considering a “wide array” of options [JURIST report] for closing the prison.