Bringing detainees from Guantanamo Bay to facilities in Kansas and South Carolina is preposterous, Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Tim Scott said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Sunday.
The Pentagon is currently scouting out possible locations in the United States to place Gitmo detainees. Two locations under assessment include Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and the Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C., the states represented by Roberts and Scott, respectively.
According to Roberts and Scott, while housing detainees anywhere in the United States is a terrible idea, Fort Leavenworth is a particularly poor location, as the facility is surrounded by schools and homes, and moreover, is only 16 miles from the Kansas City International Airport.
“Everyone in the vicinity would live with a target on their back if some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world were housed among them,” the senators wrote. “Millions of taxpayer dollars would need to be spent to retrofit the barracks—and acquire perhaps 2,000 acres of land around them by eminent domain for a security perimeter—to house these prisoners.”
The brig in Charleston is situated just five miles from the Charleston International Airport. For Roberts and Scott, bringing incredibly dangerous prisoners to Charleston, a city often referred to as the number one tourist destination in the United States, “would be grossly irresponsible.” The area is surrounded by residential neighborhoods.
The Pentagon’s decision to survey locations is meant to signal increased cooperation with the White House at a time when some have questioned whether Defense Secretary Ash Carter is committed to President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to close the facility. Time and again, Carter has restated that he’s willing, though some defense officials have wondered why he is dragging his feet on signatures needed to transfer detainees out of the prison. (RELATED: SecDef Ash Carter Frustrates White House By Holding Up Gitmo Transfers, Just Like His Predecessor)
Even the Department of Justice seems hesitant, which it displayed by opposing a petition to set Tariq Ba Odah free, a detainee cleared for release since 2009.
“We will not let the president ignore the realities of terrorism,” said Roberts and Scott. “We will do everything in our power, use every tool in the Senate, to ensure that our communities—the churches, schools, playgrounds and military installations—are kept safe while terrorists remain where they belong: locked up at Guantanamo Bay.”
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