Sen. Pat Roberts Monday condemned President Barack Obama’s plan to move terrorist detainees from the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba to the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth in his home state of Kansas.
In a press release on his Senate Web site, the Republican threatened to shut down the Senate. Later at a press conference with Kansas reporters, Roberts reiterated his condemnation of Leavenworth as the new Gitmo prison.
"I've said it once and I'll say it many more times: Not in my back yard. Not in Kansas,” Roberts said. “I will shut down the Senate before I'll let that happen."
News of the plan to relocate terror suspects broke yesterday. The Associated Press reported the administration was looking at either Fort Leavenworth in Kansas or a maximum-security prison in Michigan as options to house the detainees. Fort Leavenworth also is under consideration to be the site for the federal criminal trials and military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects, according to the report.
On his Web site, Roberts wrote that he spoke Monday with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Policy Philip Carter to express his “extreme displeasure” with the rumor that Fort Leavenworth is under consideration.
“The 100 most dangerous terrorists in the world will not be moved to Fort. Leavenworth on my watch,” he said. "Moving terrorists to the intellectual center of the Army at Fort Leavenworth threatens the mission of the base and endangers the entire community. We have no way to secure the facility from the outside-in and have no control over what people these terrorists will attract to this community.”
Roberts, a former Marine and past Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 2003-2006, said he opposes any and all efforts to locate terrorists at the Fort Leavenworth facility and has heard from the community, surrounding areas and Kansans from all corners of the state who are unequivocally opposed to housing terrorist suspects in Kansas.
"What more proof does this administration need that a new detention facility will not make housing terrorists more appealing to the international community?” he asked. “It will just make it less safe for Americans."
According to a report from the Knight Ridder-Tribune, Roberts would like to discuss with Obama the presidential executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by early next year. He also noted that he has yet to receive a briefing by U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Kansas Republican, about the administration’s plans to relocate detainees.
Roberts told the Tribune that while the Fort Leavenworth prison is safe from the inside out, it isn’t from the outside in. He said the perimeter of the site would have to be enlarged because the presence of terrorism suspects housed at the facility could invite protests, suicide bombers or violent attacks to the area.
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