DoD’s Gitmo closure chief: Released detainees have killed Americans

posted at 4:41 pm on March 23, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Closing the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay and releasing most of its detainees, Barack Obama argues, will make Americans safer. Just how has that worked out so far? Even the man in charge of Obama’s project at the Department of Defense admitted today that released Gitmo detainees have murdered Americans.

And yet, Paul Lewis argues, the project continues:

Testifying before the GOP-led House Foreign Affairs Committee, Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of the detention center, declined to provide details and did not say whether the incidents occurred before or after President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

“What I can tell you is unfortunately there have been Americans that have died because of (Guantanamo) detainees,” Lewis said during an exchange with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

“When anybody dies it is tragedy. We don’t want anybody to die because we transfer detainees,” Lewis said. “However, it’s the best judgment and the considered judgment of this administration and the previous administration that … we should close” the Guantanamo detention center.

Say, isn’t the primary duty of a government to keep its citizens safe? Shouldn’t government policies be calculated towards, oh, not getting Americans murdered? When a government official comes before Congress and reports that “X policy has resulted in murdered Americans,” the expectation should be that the very next sentence will be, “We changed that policy” — not “and we still think this is a good policy that should be followed.”

Of course, it depends on the priorities of those in charge of making policy. Over at the White House, they seem to have a higher priority on winning accolades from progressives than in keeping their grip on dangerous terrorists. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, wide bipartisan majorities in Congress have put security and safety of Americans ahead of Obama’s vanity project. Lewis’ update on the impact that project has had on Americans is not likely to convince those majorities to reconsider their earlier positions.

Rather than free terrorists that want to kill Americans, Perry Chiaramonte argues at Fox, why not pardon or commute the sentences for a few Americans at Fort Leavenworth who fought against them? The Leavenworth 10 languish for actions that arguably intended to protect Americans rather than murder them:

The “Leavenworth 10” is the name given to a fluctuating number of men housed at Leavenworth for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan that their supporters say were justified. Over the years, a handful have been paroled, and more have been incarcerated.

Among the more well-known cases is that of Army First Lt. Clint Lorance, who is serving a 20-year sentence for ordering his men to shoot two suspected Taliban scouts in July 2012 in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. Lorance had just taken command of the platoon after the prior leader and several others were killed days before. The Taliban suspects were on motorcycles and matched descriptions given by a pilot who flew over the area earlier and spotted them as scouts. …

U.S. Army Master Sgt. John Hatley — a highly decorated, 20-year vet who served in Operation Desert Storm and did another three tours during the Iraq War — also is serving a life sentence at Leavenworth. His conviction stems from an April, 2007, incident in Iraq in which he and his unit captured enemies following a firefight. He radioed a U.S. detention facility to notify officials he was bringing in four prisoners, but was ordered to let them go, according to his legal team.

Two years later, a sergeant who had served with Hatley, Jesse Cunningham, was facing charges for assaulting another officer and falling asleep at his post. As leverage for a plea deal, he told investigators that Hatley and two other officers had taken the insurgents to a remote location, blindfolded them and shot each in the back of the head. He claimed their bodies were dumped in a canal, though none was ever found.

Hatley, now 47, insists he and his men let the insurgents go, but believes he was punished in the interest of the government’s relations with Baghdad.

Frankly, I’d rather take a chance with these men than with the radical Islamist terrorists at Gitmo. It’s telling that this administration would rather free the latter.

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