Tags: Ashton Carter | nominee | secretary | defense | resist | white house | Gitmo

DoD Nominee Carter: Won't Cave to WH Pressure to Empty Gitmo

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 09:58 PM

Ashton Carter, nominated by President Obama to serve as secretary of defense, promised senators Wednesday that he would resist White House efforts to bully him into closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where 122 captured jihadists remain.

Carter made the promise to senators during his confirmation hearing after they expressed concern over reports that Obama's first three defense secretaries complained about White House micromanagement, The Washington Times reported.

"Two of your predecessors, Secretary Gates and Secretary Panetta, have severely criticized White House micromanagement of the Defense Department and over-centralization of foreign and defense policy," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain told Carter.

The Arizona Republican also noted that outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has gone public with his complaints over problems with White House micromanagement and indecision on issues ranging from Ukraine to terrorist detention policy.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte echoed McCain’s comments and asked Carter to "make a commitment" to the Armed Services Committee "that you will not succumb to any pressure by this administration to increase the transfers" of Guantanamo detainees.

"Absolutely," Carter told the New Hampshire Republican.

When he came into office in 2009, President Obama vowed to review the detainees being kept at the facility and determine whether they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.

The number of detainees held there has plummeted from a one-time high of 779 to the current 122, The Times noted. According to Pentagon figures, approximately 30 percent of those who have been released from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield.

In a recent interview with CNN, Hagel said he came under pressure from the White House to release detainees more quickly. The former Nebraska senator said that despite the heat, he held firm.

Hagel also defended the release of five Taliban detainees from Gitmo in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May, saying it was "the right decision."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who recently visited Qatar, where the detainees were sent, said that the group had been in contact with members of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, even though they remained in Qatar.

The South Carolina Republican said
the administration decision to free the five was "dangerous," adding that "the likelihood of these five going back to the battle is almost as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west."

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Ashton Carter, nominated by President Obama to serve as secretary of defense, promised senators Wednesday that he would resist White House efforts to bully him into closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where 122 captured jihadists remain. Carter made the promise...
Ashton Carter, nominee, secretary, defense, resist, white house, Gitmo
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2015-58-04
Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 09:58 PM
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