Kansas governor says ‘no’ to GITMO prisoner transfers to his state

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback makes his victory speech during a Republican watch party Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Governor Sam Brownback says he’s told the Pentagon Kansas has no interest in housing detainees from the Guantanamo Bay naval base as the Obama administration looks to closing the facility down.

Thursday Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon has teams looking for one or more U.S. sites to transfer the detainees to as the administration moves ahead with a 2008 pledge by the president to close the facility.

He said the top two options are the military prisons in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Charleston, South Carolina. He said assessment groups had already visited Kansas and would soon visit Charleston.

Thursday afternoon, Brownback said in a statement that he told Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work the state is opposed to any attempt to transfer the detainees here.

“The idea of sending these terrorists, who hate America, to the Heartland of our nation is simply wrong,” said Brownback in the statement. “My priority is the safety of our citizens and communities and I will continue to fight against the transfer of any GITMO detainees to Kansas.”

Joining the statement was State Senator Steve Fitzgerald (R) of Leavenworth.

“The transfer to Leavenworth would be against the wishes of the people and leaders of this community,” said Fitzgerald.

During his news conference Thursday, Carter said they are looking for facilities for 116 detainees who fall into two categories: Those who can be transferred to other countries and those who the United States must continue to hold.

Obama first voiced his intention to close the GITMO facilities in 2008, and in 2009 Brownback and the state’s U.S. Congressional delegation defeated efforts at that time to transfer detainees here.

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