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Obama administration expects more Guantanamo transfers despite Bergdahl controversy

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The Obama administration expects more inmates will be transferred from the Guantanamo Bay military prison this year, a U.S. official said on Thursday, despite the political firestorm over the exchange of five Taliban detainees for the last American soldier held in Afghanistan.

“There are a significant number of transfers in the pipeline at various stages, and I think you are going to be seeing substantial progress this year,” a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a briefing for reporters on moves toward closing the base.

The official declined to say how many of the 149 prisoners still at the U.S. detention center at the naval base in Cuba are up for transfer. Seventy-eight – including 58 Yemenis and four Afghans – have been approved to be released without charge.

The detention camp, much-criticized by human rights groups and others, has been back in the spotlight since Saturday when Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was released after being held for five years by the Taliban, in exchange for five Taliban officials held at Guantanamo for 12 years.

News of the swap, which was arranged without consulting Congress, infuriated many lawmakers, particularly Republicans already skeptical about the avowed intention of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to close the prison.

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Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Obama of using Bergdahl’s release “as an opportunity to pursue his legacy of closing Guantanamo Bay” in a column published at Time.com.

After being briefed about a potential swap of five prisoners for Bergdahl in late 2011, Congress passed a law, which Obama signed in early 2012, requiring the White House to give them 30 days’ notice of any transfers from Guantanamo.

Lawmakers contend that the Bergdahl swap deal violated that law because they were not given notice of the Guantanamo transfers, underscoring the tough fight ahead of the White House as it seeks to shutter the prison.

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Advocates for closing the camp say it violates U.S. principles such as not holding prisoners without charge. It also acts as a recruiting tool for anti-American militants, and is very expensive to keep open.

It costs $2.7 million to $2.8 million per year to keep each detainee at Guantanamo, compared with $78,000 per inmate at the highest security prisons in the United States.

Current U.S. law does not allow any prisoners to be moved to the United States from Guantanamo, for trial in federal courts or any other reason, even medical emergency.

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Lawmakers who favor closing the base have repeatedly introduced legislation to allow some transfers to the United States. Most recently, they included such provisions in a defense spending bill currently making its way through Congress. Such legislation has repeatedly failed to pass.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Grant McCool)


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Trump asked right-wing conspiracy theorist congressman to help him pick his next Director of National Intelligence

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On Monday, Politico reported that President Donald Trump is consulting with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about who he should consider to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Nunes has led the Republican side of the House Intelligence Committee since 2015 and chaired the committee for four years, despite having no professional qualifications of any kind for that role. Since 2017, he has been known for his stunts and conspiracy theories intended to discredit the Russia investigation and throw suspicion on anyone who looks into Trump's conduct.

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Conservative newspaper hilariously trolls Trump about his failure to build any new border wall

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Donald Trump on the US-Mexico Border

The conservative Washington Examiner trolled President Donald Trump for his failure to construct any new border barricade during his 30 months in office.

On Monday, Trump lashed out at the media on Twitter for not giving him positive coverage for his wall, which he erroneously claimed would be paid for by Mexico.

The Examiner replied to Trump on Twitter, posting an article headlined, "Trump has not built a single mile of new border fence after 30 months in office."

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Here’s how a new study implies the Supreme Court has killed 16,000 people since 2012

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A new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked into the effects of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion to people below 138 percent of the poverty line, which has seen nearly 15 million people enrolled in participating states. The results were encouraging: the mortality rate for near-elderly adults has dropped over 9 percent in the four years for which data is available.

But while this is cause for celebration, The Atlantic staff writer Annie Lowrey offered a darker take on the implications of these numbers:

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