According to a new report from the Washington Post, U.S. officials have acknowledged that at least six Americans have been killed by terrorists who used to call the prison at Guantanamo Bay home. The officials, who spoke to the paper on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that while most of the dead were military troops, one American civilian was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 by a former Gitmo prisoner.
Because most of these records are highly classified, reporters – and even members of Congress – have had a tough time finding specific information about what happens to the former residents of the Cuba compound. Even with the protection of anonymity, federal officials would not give reporters the exact number of former Gitmo prisoners believed to be responsible for the attacks, citing classification.
The Washington Post was inspired to investigate after the Pentagon’s Paul Lewis admitted publicly in March that “around” 12 former detainees had killed Americans overseas. Neither Lewis nor the Obama administration has provided any further comment or clarification, and critics are now accusing Obama of using top secret classification as an excuse to avoid a genuine political debate.
“There appears to be a consistent and concerted effort by the Administration to prevent Americans from knowing the truth regarding the terrorist activities and affiliations of past and present Guantanamo detainees,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) in a letter to President Obama. She is one of many Republicans who oppose the president’s plan to shut down the prison.
The terrorists responsible for killing Americans were released under the Bush administration, but lawmakers want to prevent Obama from sending the remaining 80 inmates into foreign custody or relocating them to prisons inside the U.S. The prisoners left at Gitmo today are the worst of the worst, including five detainees currently being charged with organizing the World Trade Center attacks of 2001.
15 years after that dark September day, it is more obvious than ever that we’ve reneged on our national promise to “Never Forget.” 9/11 has been filed in the history books and reduced to little more than an excuse to criticize the Iraq War and lament the spread of “Islamophobia.” Meanwhile, this administration uses each new terrorist attack to ramble on about gun control and the importance of remembering our American values, whatever that means to Barack Obama.
It may be impossible to “end” terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we have to invite disaster to our doorstep.