TOPEKA (KSNT) — The United States Congress has passed a measure banning the transfer of any detainees from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, including Kansas.
The action comes as the state’s congressional delegation turns up the heat to keep the detainees out of Kansas.
“Of course, you are familiar with the President’s promise during his first campaign to close Guantanamo Bay and move those terrorists to American soil,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Kansas.
That’s even despite Congress’ latest efforts to keep them out of the country.
“I’m concerned that the president may ignore the law, current law, and may make a move to move them here anyway,” said Jenkins.
Republicans believe the president will do it by executive order, something he’s done before when he can’t get Congress to go along.
“If the President can issue an executive order on anything and, in this particular case, endanger our national security, then what are we even doing here?” asked Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts during a news conference last week.
One of the places the president is considering relocating those detainees is the U.S. Army’s Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
“Terrorist threats remain very high. Why on Earth would you want to put a bull’s-eye with regard to South Carolina, Kansas or Colorado? In my case Fort Leavenworth, the intellectual center of the Army,” said Roberts.
The president worries terrorist groups use Guantanamo Bay as a recruiting center and he thinks moving those detainees to American soil would stop that, but many members of Congress disagree.
“Then you could say to any terrorist group or anybody that you want to join, ‘They’re holding our brothers in Fort Leavenworth or in Colorado or South Carolina.’ And I don’t see any difference from that and GITMO,” said Roberts.
Senator Roberts is so worried the president will issue an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, he’s started a petition for other concerned Kansans to sign.
The Congressional ban was part of the Defense Appropriations Bill, and the president’s spokesman says while Obama doesn’t like the provision, he’ll sign the bill.
Josh Earnst added it doesn’t change the president’s intentions to close the prison.