TOPEKA – (September 22, 2016) – During a time when Congress had prohibited spending funds to assist in the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. mainland, the Obama administration spent thousands of dollars to assess whether detainees could be relocated to Fort Leavenworth and two other sites, a newly released Department of Defense document shows.
The one-page document was released Tuesday, three business days after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked a federal court to order that it be released immediately. After receiving no documents from any federal agency in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted last December, Schmidt in July filed a federal lawsuit seeking to require the Department of Defense to comply with the FOIA request. The document released this week is the first released by the federal government – more than 8 months after Schmidt first submitted his request. Schmidt’s request for numerous other documents related to the administration’s plans to relocate Guantanamo detainees to the mainland remains pending and under review by the federal district court.
“The administration’s demonstrated willingness to disregard funding restrictions in the past calls into question whether it will abide by those restrictions in the future,” Schmidt said. “As time runs out for the Obama administration to make good on its promise to close Guantanamo, this document raises new concerns for those who object to bringing detainees to the U.S. mainland.”
The one-page document is titled “Department of Defense Costs Site Surveys of US Locations for Possible Guantanamo Detainee Relocation.” The document shows the federal agency spent a total of $25,909.53 on site surveys of three locations, including $7,687.20 to survey Fort Leavenworth.
Schmidt today forwarded a copy of the newly released document to the Kansas congressional delegation along with a letter explaining how it was obtained.
“[T]he admission raises the concern that the Department of Defense violated the law by knowingly expending these funds while federal law enacted by Congress expressly prohibited the agency from doing so,” Schmidt wrote. “Knowing of your strong interest in both preventing a transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth and protecting the congressional power of the purse, I am bringing this matter to your attention.”
A copy of Schmidt’s letter to the congressional delegation along with the document released by the Defense Department is available at http://bit.ly/2dcGAnr.