Roberts' remarks Thursday to the Senate were the latest expression of opposition from Kansas officials to closing the prison at the U.S. naval base on Cuba. It still houses 241 suspected terrorists and enemy combatants.
Roberts, a former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, opposes closing it.
In prepared remarks, he told fellow senators if there's a plan to bring detainees to Kansas, they should cancel summer plans because he'll keep them in Washington to block the move.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Congressman Jerry Moran recently made the following speech on the House floor opposing relocating Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
“Mr. Speaker, in January, shortly after taking office, President Obama ordered the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base within the year. Up to 250 detainees who are suspects from the war on terrorism will be processed or moved, possibly to facilities located inside the United States. The U.S. disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is apparently one of the facilities under consideration to house these prisoners.
“I have visited Fort Leavenworth, the city of Leavenworth, and surrounding communities. I have talked to city officials, local businesses, and State legislators. I have spoken to U.S. military officers and foreign military students attending the Army's Command and General Staff College located at the fort. Simply stated, Fort Leavenworth is a poor fit for placing Guantanamo detainees.
“Fort Leavenworth is known as the ‘Intellectual Center of the Army,’ where the leaders of our military and foreign militaries are educated. However, should these politically sensitive detainees be located at the fort, many countries will likely discontinue sending military students to America to be trained. This action would disrupt Fort Leavenworth's primary mission of military education. It would greatly impair a successful international military student program that has spread good will around the world for 100 years.
“Additionally, our country should not make Fort Leavenworth's soldiers and their families and northeast Kansas unfairly bear this responsibility at the cost of their safety and economic well-being. The 3,000 residents who live on post as well as the residents of nearby communities would be living at a higher security risk. Since the fort has no major medical facilities, dangerous detainees would need to be transported to a local hospital or V.A. for medical attention. Local public safety officials are not capable of handling a terrorist incident or protests that may occur and would require greater resources. The need to increase security at the fort would likely close off citizen access to Sherman Airfield, the only public airport in Leavenworth, as well as stop rail and river barge traffic that runs through the post. These actions would have significant economic consequences.
“Finally, the fort's disciplinary barracks lack the capability to house terrorist suspects. It is largely a medium-security facility for military prisoners. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the disciplinary barracks to maximum security level and to construct the hospital, residential, and support facilities that would be required to house the additional prisoners and security personnel. As a small post surrounded by a civilian population, there is no room to grow.
“Fort Leavenworth is clearly an unsuitable location. I am a sponsor of legislation introduced by my colleague of Kansas, Ms. Jenkins, to prevent Guantanamo detainees from being relocated there.
“The decision to close Guantanamo Bay detention facility and relocate terror suspects should not be made recklessly. I'm troubled that the administration is seeking to move forward on Guantanamo despite the absence of a closure and relocation plan and despite the lack of congressional review. In their recently submitted FY 09 war supplemental request to Congress, they ask us for $80 million to close the Guantanamo detention facility and to relocate prisoners, support personnel and services.
“I joined the gentleman from California, Representative Hunter, in asking the Appropriations Committee not to include this funding in the supplemental until we see a plan. Still lacking these details this week, I'm pleased to see that our appropriations chairman, Mr. Obey, announced his refusal to provide the funding.
“This critical national security decision deserves critical thought. Detainees should not be moved where they do not belong. And detainees do not belong at Fort Leavenworth,” said Moran.
U.S. Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) Thursday led the effort by House Republicans to block all efforts by the Obama administration to transfer or release terrorist detainees to the United States who are currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility in Cuba. Tiahrt offered an amendment to block the administration during committee markup of the FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill. Tiahrt is a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
Tiahrt’s amendment would prohibit any taxpayer dollars from being used to “transfer or release” detainees to the United States who are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. Committee Democrats opposed the amendment voting to grant the Obama administration the ability to transfer detainees to the United States. The Tiahrt amendment failed on a party-line vote of 21 to 36.
“Republicans drew the line in the sand today declaring we do not want terrorist detainees coming to the United States,” said Tiahrt. “It is now public record where Democrats stand on this issue. They voted against my amendment and chose to allow the Obama administration the ability to transfer or release terrorist detainees on American soil with full knowledge that some will be released on our streets.
“It defies common sense why Democrats would vote to support the Obama administration bringing terrorist detainees into our communities. I know my constituents in Kansas overwhelmingly oppose allowing these individuals to be brought here. I will continue fighting efforts of the Obama administration and Democrats who want terrorist detainees to move to America.”
Tiahrt also introduced his No Welfare for Terrorists Act of 2009 that prohibits any detainee being held at Guantanamo Bay from receiving welfare benefits should the Obama administration transfer or release detainees to the United States.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has indicated that detainees released in the U.S. would likely receive government assistance to help them return to society — one they have never been a part of. According to a news report, Blair said last month, “If we are to release them in the United States, we need some sort of assistance for them to start a new life. You can't just put them on the street.”
For a copy of the No Welfare for Terrorists Act of 2009 or for more information, visit www.tiahrt.house.gov and click Legislative Resources.
The text of Tiahrt’s amendment offered in committee markup is as follows:
AMENDMENT TO SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS
OFFERED BY MR. TIAHRT OF KANSAS
At the end of title III, insert the following new section:
PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR TRANSFER OR RELEASE OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT NAVAL STATION, GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA, TO THE UNITED STATES
Hereafter none of the funds made available in this or any other Act for the current fiscal year or any fiscal year thereafter may be used to transfer or release an individual who is detained, as of the date of the enactment of this Act, at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States