NPR logo White House Suspends Gitmo Transfers To Yemen


White House Suspends Gitmo Transfers To Yemen

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced at his press briefing Tuesday afternoon that the Obama Administration is suspending for now the controversial transfer of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo back to Yemen.

"While we remain committed to closing the (Guantanamo) facility, a determination has been made right now — any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea," Gibbs said.

The single largest group of nationals now at Gitmo are from Yemen. There are reportedly 198 detainees left at the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Of that number, 89 are Yemenis.

Six Yemenis were returned to Yemen, the failing state located on the southern tip of the Saudi peninsula, in December.

But the weakness of Yemen's government and the as well information strongly indicating that the Christmas Day airliner bombing plot was launched from Yemen, has led to bipartisan calls for the transfers to end.

As recently as Sunday, John Brennan, assistant to Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, said on NBC's Meet the Press indicated that the administration had not determined when any future transfers to Yemen would take place. Now it sounds like it has decided none will occur for some time to come.

He said:

Of the recent batch that we sent back, about six, many of them are in custody within the Yemeni system right now. We are looking at it every day. We're not going to make any decisions that are going to put people at risk. We will decide and determine when, when we should send additional people back. But we're going to do it in the right way, because Guantanamo should be closed. It was used as a propaganda tool by al-Qaeda, and the president is still committed to it.