WASHINGTON – A new report by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee slams both the Bush and Obama administrations for taking too many risks when releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison, Fox News has learned.
The 93-page report, which is expected to be approved Thursday, criticizes the evolution of detainee policies over the past decade and claims both the Bush and Obama adminstrations have adhered to "domestic political pressures" to allow the transfer of some detainees. In turn, those transfers have amped up the national security risk to the United States.
The report comes as the Obama administration officials have acknowledged that they are considering whether to release several Afghan Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo and send them to a third country as an incentive to bring the Taliban to peace talks. The step is certain to create an uproar in Congress, especially among Republicans. The 93-page study is likely to be part of the Republican effort to influence the ongoing debate.
Nearly 14 percent of the former detainees re-engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities upon release, and another 12 percent are suspected of doing so, according to the document.
"The Bush and Obama administrations, reacting to domestic political pressures and a desire to earn goodwill abroad, sought to reduce the Guantanamo population by sending detainees elsewhere," the report said. "Both administrations faced the persistent challenge of ensuring that the potential threat posed by each detainee had been aptly assessed before transfer or release, and that the countries that received the detainees had the capacity and willingness to handle them in a way that sufficiently recognized the dangers involved."
"Despite earnest and well-meaning efforts by officials in both administrations, the re-engagement rate suggests failures in one or both aspects of the process," the report concluded.
The report recommended that the Defense Department, CIA and other intelligence agencies report to Congress on the factors that contribute to a former detainee re-engaging in terrorist activities. The committee also is seeking reports on the effectiveness of agreements with other countries.
As of Jan. 1, 779 individuals have been held at Guantanamo, 600 have left the installation, eight died there and 171 remain, the report said, citing the Defense Department.
The report noted that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld held the view that the military should not be a jailer and there was a plan to get detainees out. President Barack Obama also had vowed to close Guantanamo, though he has met strong resistance in Congress.
Lawmakers repeatedly have added provisions to various bills blocking the government from transferring detainees from Guantanamo to the United States, or barring the construction of facilities domestically to house terror suspects.
In a rare break on a committee that typically is bipartisan on defense issues, Democrats dissented from the report despite efforts to reconcile their differences.
Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the report failed to take into account "the national security gains of shutting down the facility at Guantanamo. That is a goal that the Bush administration sought to achieve, and it is rightly a goal of the Obama administration. I continue to believe that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a black eye for our nation abroad, serving as a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists. We have the ability to close the facility, and we should be working towards that end."
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.