The U.S. House of Representatives sternly interrogated Paul Lewis, the Pentagon's special envoy for the effort to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, today.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, who are not in favor of closing the illegal prison in Cuba, demanded to know whether or not any U.S. soldiers had been killed due to the transfer of prisoners, many of whom were held without charge, back to their home countries.
"Unfortunately, there have been Americans that have died because of Gitmo detainees," Lewis revealed. Lewis declined to give further details on the deaths.
Many Republican lawmakers insist the prison is an essential tool for holding and interrogating suspects who threaten the United States.
"Interrogation" has been a contentious term when used to refer to what occurs at Guantanamo. Shortly before Obama's first term began, it came to light that the administration of George W. Bush had used "advanced interrogation" techniques, also known as torture, to extract information from detainees.
These include waterboarding, which is essentially drowning, force-feeding hunger strikers, and others.
"When anybody dies it's a tragedy. We don't want anybody to die because we transfer detainees," Lewis said during an exchange with Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Reuters reports. "However, it's the best judgment and the considered judgment of this administration and the previous administration that ... we should close Gitmo."
This view is shared by the world community, including many U.S. allies in Europe.
"Let me suggest that attitude of our European friends may well be changing in the next six months or so when they realize that the slaughter that’s taking place in Paris and now in Brussels is part of an international movement to destroy Western civilization and replace it with a caliphate," Rohrabacher said.
Of the 780 prisoners held at Guantanamo, 647 were released to their home countries or resettled elsewhere, most while Bush was president.
Today 91 detainees remain. Obama has been trying to fulfill his 2009 promise of closing the prison since the beginning of his tenure as president, to little effect.
Cuban President Raul Castro has often demanded that Guantanamo be closed and returned to the Cuban people.