Senators seek answers about release of Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo Bay

A group of senators, in letters sent on Friday to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., questioned the recent release of Shaker Aamer from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

The letters, signed by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AR), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rob Portman (R-OH), point out that Aamer’s notification of transfer failed to list the Joint Chiefs of Staff as an entity “concurring” and “approving” of the transfer, which is standard for such a transfer.

“Upon reviewing the notification of transfer we noticed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not one of the entities listed as ‘concurring’ and ‘approving’ of the transfer, as is the norm,” The letter said. “Additionally, the Pentagon press release concerning this transfer says ‘Aamer was unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the [Guantanamo Review] task force,’ which seems misleading.”

This change, the letters say, indicate that the Joint Chiefs were not in agreement with the Obama Administration and its decision to release Aamer.

The letters call for Carter and Dunford to answer certain questions on the transfer to the Senate and House Armed Services, Intelligence, Foreign Relations, Homeland Security, and Appropriations Committees.

Questions in the letter for Carter include what key factors led to the Joint Chiefs not concurring on the transfer and if they were concerned that Aamer’s release would put U.S. service members’ lives at risk. The letter also questions if the secretary will continue seeking advice from the Joint Chiefs on future transfers and why a press release claims that the Guantanamo Review Task Force unanimously supported the transfer when they did not appear to.

The letter to Dunford seeks answers as to the key factors leading the Joint Chiefs to not concur on the transfer decision and if the secretary of defense notified the Joint Chiefs that it would continue with the transfer despite the non-concurrence.