WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., said he hasn't been briefed on any plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but he questioned the need to make a change.
"I don't know why he (President Barack Obama) wants to get involved in that process. Most of the people who are there are pretty hard. They are terrorists," said the Republican, whose 1st District includes Hanahan. "I just think it's pretty unwise to release POWs during the battle."
It's unclear how many of the estimated 245 people held at the facility might be released, put on trial or transferred to other federal prisons, such as the Charleston Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan or a high-security prison in Leavenworth, Kan.
Brown said he isn't worried so much about escapees but rather about how their presence would make Hanahan and the surrounding areas more of a potential target. Also, it could require security upgrades that could inconvenience people who live or work nearby.
"If they come to America, does that give them jurisdiction in our courts?" Brown said.
Brown said he has not talked about the issue with U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, an Obama confidant whose 6th congressional district is within a few miles of the Hanahan brig.
Last week, Clyburn said talk of sending the prisoners to Hanahan is largely media speculation and that he has been briefed about plans to send them to other countries instead.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., sent out a press release warning the move would endanger Americans. "And if the new administration tries to move these known terrorists to South Carolina, they should be ready for a fight," he wrote.
Brown said he hasn't heard much feedback on the issue.
"I think once people focus on it," he said, "they'll realize that's something they would not like to see in their neighborhood."
Yvonne Wenger contributed to this report.