Standing before the press last Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, argued that this is no time to be releasing detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Opportunistically, she cited the recent massacre in Paris and deteriorating security in Yemen, which she oddly described as “the wild, wild West for terrorists.” She warned that American officials suspect or know that roughly 30 percent of the men released from Guantánamo have returned to the fight.
“We need a timeout,” Ms. Ayotte said, flanked by Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, fellow Republicans who are co-sponsors of a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from releasing Guantánamo prisoners who have never been charged and who have been cleared for release by officials based on a thorough risk analysis.
Coming from Ms. Ayotte, a defense hawk who takes extreme positions on national security matters, this misguided proposal is unsurprising. But its rollout was particularly troubling for a few reasons. The recidivism rate the senators cited failed to take into account how much it has decreased in recent years. Perhaps most disappointing, though, was Mr. McCain’s endorsement of the bill, which represented a striking turnaround for a former prisoner of war who has championed closing the prison at Guantánamo.