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Most Guantanamo detainees low-level fighters, task force report says

The report says those recommended for indefinite detention had significant roles in al-Qaeda or the Taliban and advanced training or expertise. It notes that "some detainees designated for detention have, while at Guantanamo, expressly stated or otherwise exhibited an intent to reengage in extremist activity upon release."

For a handful of detainees cleared for transfer, there was scant evidence of any involvement with terrorist groups, the report says. Most were low-level fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda or other groups in Afghanistan.

"It is important to emphasize that a decision to approve a detainee for transfer does not reflect a decision that a detainee poses no threat or no risk of recidivism," the report says. "The review participants nonetheless considered those detainees appropriate candidates for transfer from a threat perspective, in light of their limited skills, minor organizational roles, or other factors."

Of the of 779 detainees held at Guantanamo since it opened in January 2002, about 70 percent, or 530, were released by the Bush administration. It had cleared 59 more for release by the time Obama took office.

Since January 2009, the Obama administration has resettled 33 detainees in third countries, repatriated 24 and sent two to Italy for prosecution. Of the remaining detainees cleared for release, 28 are Yemeni, 17 are candidates for repatriation and 22, including five Uighurs from China, have been approved for resettlement in third countries.

In a letter this month, seven Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee asked James L. Jones, the president's national security adviser, to recommend to Obama "an immediate prohibition on the transfer of any detainee out of Guantanamo Bay, and a halt to any action related to the closure of the facility."

Jones replied to the letter this week, saying that "Guantanamo has compromised our standing in the world, undermined our core values, and diminished our moral authority." He said that the Pentagon spends $150 million a year for detention operations at Guantanamo and that costs at a possible facility in Thomson, Ill., would be $70 million to $80 million.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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