Gov. Nikki Haley will testify in front of Congress’ Homeland Security Committee on Thursday about the potential impact to the Charleston region if terror detainees from the Gitmo holding site in Cuba are transferred here.
Haley is part of a panel of speakers who will address state and local perspectives about what moving potentially dozens of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. mainland would mean.
President Barack Obama wants to fulfill a campaign promise by closing the military prison. The Navy’s Consolidated Brig in Hanahan is one of the suggested transfer sites.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and a member of the committee, said Haley’s perspective as a sitting governor is important to be included in the debate.
“It is essential that all levels of government speak out against this foolish and illegal idea,” Duncan told The Post and Courier. “The president is looking to fulfill campaign promises at the expense of national security, and I’m hopeful that Gov. Haley’s testimony will expose the short-sightedness of the president’s proposal.”
Duncan has filed legislation that would empower Congress to block any transfers to the U.S. if the White House tries to press the issue.
“No state deserves to become a terrorist dumping ground,” Duncan said.
South Carolina Republicans in Congress have repeatedly said they would fight the administration if he unilaterally moved to close the Gitmo site and move some of the 80 prisoners being housed there to the brig. Lawmakers have questioned the cost of upgrading the brig and the public safety concerns of possibly making the Charleston area a target for terror attacks.
Obama has been saying he wants to close Guantanamo Bay since the very early days of his 2008 campaign.
Also scheduled to testify Thursday are Michael Bouchard, sheriff of Oakland County, Mich.; Todd Thompson, county attorney of Leavenworth County, Kansas; and Ken Gude, senior fellow of national security at the Center for American Progress.