The Obama administration’s protracted push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and move the terror suspects detained there to a U.S. population center has always been ludicrous at best, reckless at worst. Yet the president refuses to abandon that ill-advised quest, despite bipartisan congressional prohibitions on putting those prisoners anywhere in our nation.
So it was worth the trip to Capitol Hill for Gov. Nikki Haley to testify before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency on Thursday. She delivered another forceful reminder that South Carolina firmly rejects the folly of placing terror detainees at the Charleston Consolidated Naval Brig in Hanahan — a facility within a booming tri-county area that is now home to more than 720,000 people.
Yet the brig is one of the U.S. sites that the Defense Department, at the direction of the White House, has evaluated as a potential new home for terror suspects from Gitmo.
Gov. Haley told the subcommittee Thursday: “You could pay the state of South Carolina to host these terrorists, and we wouldn’t take them. For any amount of money.”
The governor also pointed out that our state, including our community, is a popular tourist destination. She asked: “Who’s going to come vacation in a state that is now known to have these terrorists? It would make Charleston one of the most high-profile terrorist targets in the world.”
As for President Barack Obama’s pitch that closing Gitmo and moving terror detainees to the U.S. would save lots of money for federal taxpayers, Gov. Haley offered this alternative:
“I come from a state where we balance our budget — I promise we can help you find the $85 million elsewhere to cut.”
When Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., asked if her anti-transfer stance didn’t reflect a “not in my backyard” mentality, Gov. Haley said she would back any other governor facing the same menace, adding: “I don’t want it going into any state in the country.”
Gov. Haley fairly stressed, too, that South Carolina — and Charleston — saw more than enough of the face of hate with last June’s mass murder at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church.
Of course, it’s understandable that President Obama remains frustrated, with less than nine months left in his second term, about his inability to keep his repeated promises of closing Gitmo.
But it’s not only Republican elected officials who have justifiably objected to the president’s misguided proposals on how to handle terror suspects.
For instance, during his first term, the president and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were rightly blocked by numerous Democrats, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, in the administration’s bizarre attempt to try confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammad and other terrorist suspects in a federal court in Manhattan. So the administration had to give up on that idea.
After all, it made no sense.
Neither does moving Gitmo terror detainees to the U.S. — especially to a growing population center that’s a magnet for tourists from around the world.