The Obama administration is in the process of negotiating the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, if they are willing to take some “counseling” and a bit of “job training,” the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
The talks, facilitated by the United Nations, involve plans to ship the prisoners from Gitmo to — of all places — Yemen, known as a terrorist hot bed and described as a security threat by the U.S. State Department. It is still not yet known whether the Yemen facility would function as a prison or a halfway house, since Yemeni officials don’t want to it be seen as “Gitmo 2,” according to the Times.
Such supposed terrorist rehabilitation programs have a sordid history. Said Ali al-Shihri, an al-Qaida leader in Yemen, graduated from a Saudi Arabian rehab program, then had a hand in the 2008 U.S. Embassy bombing in Yemen and other attacks, according to Judicial Watch.
“In fact, many of the Gitmo captives already released to Yemen have resumed their jihadist training, according intelligence reports,” Judicial Watch reported Nov. 8.
But Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the Los Angeles Times that her agency believes “that the establishment of a credible, sustainable program would be an important step for the Yemeni government in bolstering their counter-terrorism capabilities.”
That is true, unless the program involves releasing terrorists into society. Yemen’s foreign minister, Abubakr Qirbi, acknowledged the negotiations, describing the prisoners targeted for the Yemeni facility as “non-violent,” the Times reported.
Some doubt the credibility of the planned facility.
“I don’t think [it] should exist unless it’s an actual rehabilitation program,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counter-terrorism counsel, according to the Times. “There’s no way I would find it acceptable for [returned Yemeni detainees] to be held against their will.”
Holding someone against their will does sound rather harsh, but then again, these are terrorists.
Just who will pay for the new program has yet to be worked out. Yemen’s offer to fund the project has been rescinded, and U.S. officials say Washington lawmakers are unlikely to support funding, according to the Times, which added:
“They say Republicans in Congress, many of whom oppose closing Guantanamo, will not appropriate money to build a separate facility in Yemen. Nor is it possible to guarantee that the prison meets U.S. standards without American personnel there, which officials rule out.”