With reports circulating that President Barack Obama may use executive action to close Guantanamo Bay sometime this year, one embattled Republican says he will do all he can to prevent detainees from being transferred to his state.
“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth,” Kansas, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts told supporters at a campaign event on Friday, according to Roll Call.
Roberts is campaigning for his fourth term in the senate, but is facing the battle of his political life against independent Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman.
“I shall do it again,” Roberts promised. “I shall do it again, and if [Obama] tries it, I will shut down the Senate.”
By closing the facility, which currently houses 149 prisoners with ties to terrorist activity, the detainees would likely be transferred to prisons on U.S. soil. Leavenworth, a federal prison in the northern part of the state, would be a strong candidate for the transfer.
As a presidential candidate, Obama promised to close the facility. According to The Wall Street Journal, the White House is drafting a plan to circumvent a congressional ban on transferring terrorism detainees to U.S. soil.
But if Obama goes through with the unilateral measure, Roberts says a filibuster would be in order.
“Once you get control of the floor, then you just don’t leave it,” Roberts said, according to Roll Call. “Ted Cruz did that with regards to Obamacare. If it’s necessary, I’ll do it with terrorists.”
Cruz, who campaigned for Roberts in Wichita on Thursday, spent 21 hours on the Senate floor last year haranguing Obamacare.
Just as Roberts participated in Cruz’s effort, he said Friday that he would also expect to have a little help from his friends as well.
“I don’t know if I can do 21 hours — maybe 22 or 23,” he told the audience. “But I will have help on this. I can see John McCain there, and I can see Lindsey Graham there, and I can see Kelly Ayotte there, and I can see a whole bunch of other people there.”
Roberts questioned Obama’s rationale for closing the base now, at a time when terrorist activity is peaking.
“What on Earth is the man thinking? We have ISIS, we have the world on fire, we’re worried about terrorists coming across the border — that danger, according to intelligence sources, is very real — and so we’re gonna bring 179 terrorists to the United States?” said Roberts, while mentioning Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Kuwaiti being held at Guantanamo who is considered the principal architect behind 9/11.
“I just think that’s terribly wrongheaded,” said Roberts. “And the reasons that he cites or that his aides cite in the White House is that it was a campaign promise. That was then, this is now. And now is not the time to bringing 179 terrorists in the United States.”