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AG Derek Schmidt: Latest Defense Department documents on Guantanamo relocation indicate awareness of potential illegality

Release Date: Feb 06, 2017

TOPEKA − (February 6, 2017) − Officials in the Obama administration were aware as early as July 2015 that congressional funding restrictions might render unlawful the administration's plan to send survey teams to potential U.S. mainland sites for detainee relocation, documents released last week show.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense released the latest group of documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last July by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The lawsuit seeks documents describing administration planning to relocate terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to sites on the U.S. mainland, potentially including Fort Leavenworth.

Like previous groups of documents, the new release of 140 pages was heavily redacted with most pages rendered entirely illegible. But one document (#1268) shows that in an email sent July 28, 2015, Department of Defense officials discussed the possibility that congressional funding restrictions might prohibit the sending of survey teams to potential relocation sites on the mainland.

The email began: "Not sure if you read the clips in the morning. There was an article that asserts we can't even send teams under current law." All of the remaining text in the email is redacted, so it is impossible to tell what discussion or analysis of the funding restrictions ensued. Despite that concern, survey teams were later sent to U.S. mainland sites, including Fort Leavenworth.

This is the fifth group of documents released in response to Schmidt’s lawsuit, State of Kansas, ex rel. Derek Schmidt v. United States Department of Defense, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, Case No. 16-cv-04127.  

The administration of President Donald Trump has said it will not relocate detainees to the U.S. mainland. Nevertheless, the Kansas attorney general's office plans to release remaining documents provided to it by the Department of Defense pursuant to the FOIA lawsuit.

The documents released Friday to the attorney general and made public today, along with documents previously released pursuant to court order, are available at

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