Updated at 4:55 p.m.:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says he's been waiting almost a month to hear back from Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. about an anti-terrorism program in Saudi Arabia.
Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Holder a letter Dec. 9, asking the administration to stop the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Saudi program. The program, which has been profiled by “60 Minutes” and others, tries to turn former detainees against terrorism. Sessions wrote that he’s not convinced of the program’s success.
Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sessions, said today that Holder has not responded and that continuing the transfers “puts the lives of American citizens in needless jeopardy.” Two spokespeople for the U.S. Justice Department did not immediately have a response to Sessions.
Other lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), have raised similar concerns about transfers after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound flight.
UPDATE: President Barack Obama said today that, after speaking with Holder, he has decided to suspend indefinitely transfers to Yemen, where the accused Christmas Day bomber trained.
Otherwise, the Justice Department has put out a statement standing by current policy. "We are aware of the letter from Senator Sessions," the statement reads. "As the President has clearly stated, this Administration will not transfer any Guantanamo Bay detainee who will endanger the American people. This Administration works to ensure that Guantanamo transfers are conducted in a manner that takes into account any and all concerns about threat mitigation and security, irrespective of the country to which they are sent."
The statement continues: "The previous Administration released more than 500 detainees from Guantanamo, including 14 to Yemen. Several of those individuals referenced in Senator Sessions' letter were transferred under the previous Administration.
"Under this Administration, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducts a comprehensive review of each of detainee to determine whether they may be prosecuted, transferred or addressed through other lawful option. Each of the 42 detainees transferred under this Administration was approved for transfer by unanimous consent among all the agencies involved in the review process -- including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security. In accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informs Congress of its intent to transfer each detainee at least 15 days before their transfer abroad."