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Obama Suspends Transfers To Yemen, For Now

3:40 PM, Jan 5, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Bloomberg reports:

President Barack Obama’s top spokesman said the U.S. will suspend transfers of Guantanamo terrorist suspect (sic) to Yemen.

Yemen is “not capable of handling” them now, Robert Gibbs told reporters at a briefing. “Right now, any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea.”

Gibbs said inmates slated to go to Yemen from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be moved to an Illinois prison in the wake of the Dec. 25 attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight.

Anywhere But Yemen apparently now means Illinois.

Keep in mind that earlier this year the Obama administration intended to repatriate "a majority" of Yemeni detainees. As Steve Hayes and I reported in February:

"Certainly we would like to be able to bring them back to Yemen and have them integrate themselves back into their own society with their families," Ambassador Stephen Seche [Obama's amabassador to Yemen] told America.gov, a State Department website. Although he acknowledged some "inherent risks" in returning the alleged terrorists to the general population, Seche suggested that only a few of the detainees present real problems. "Except in the case perhaps of some very hardcore elements, we believe that the majority of these detainees can be put productively into a .  .  . reintegration program with the goal over time of enabling them to find a way back into Yemeni society without posing a security risk."

What a difference several months, the rise to prominence of an al Qaeda affiliate, and a failed bomb plot make.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

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