Apr 18, 2016 2:05 PM

Steinhauser: Ayotte, Hassan, both oppose new transfer of GITMO detainees

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – They disagree on a bunch of issues, but when it comes to the future of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the two major candidates in New Hampshire’s blockbuster U.S. Senate battle are in agreement.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte says that with the announcement that the U.S. will transfer nine Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia, “the administration continues to dangerously release terrorists from Guantanamo and unnecessarily put Americans at increased risk in order to fulfill a misguided campaign promise—all while refusing to level with the American people regarding the detainees’ terrorist risks, activities, and affiliations.”

“That is why I introduced the Detaining Terrorists to Protect Americans Act of 2016 this month, which would permanently ban the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. and would suspend the release of Guantanamo detainees internationally. Continuing to release these dangerous terrorists is reckless, and poses a serious threat to our troops, our allies, and our country,” the incumbent Republican senator who sits on the Armed Services Committee added in a statement Monday.

Ayotte’s being challenged as she runs for re-election this year by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

In an interview with NH1 News on Feb. 25, Hassan for the first time announced that she opposed President Barack Obama’s proposal to close the terrorist detention facility.

Asked if she would vote in favor or against the President's proposal, Hassan told NH1 News that "my first priority is the safety and security of our citizens and our country. It's really important that that always be the focus that you evaluate any proposal such as the administration's."

"I am very concerned that the administration's proposal on Guantanamo doesn't further our national security interests,” Hassan added, “I can't support the proposal.”

The transfer of the nine prisoners, which was announced Saturday by the Pentagon, brings the number of detainees remaining at the facility to 80.

In a statement Monday, Hassan campaign press secretary Aaron Jacobs reiterated the governor’s earlier comments, telling NH1 News that "Governor Hassan believes that our first priority must always be to keep our citizens safe and protect America’s security. The Governor does not support the President's proposal to close Guantanamo because it does not do enough to advance our national security interests and to prevent dangerous terrorists from returning to the battlefield."

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