S.C. ready for battle over Gitmo relocation

The United States Naval Consolidated Brig at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station. (Staff photo)

WASHINGTON — South Carolina Republicans in Congress have said repeatedly they’d fight President Barack Obama should he, as rumored, be eying Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston as a potential relocation site for Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Lawmakers are about to find out whether they have to make good on that promise. The administration is due on Tuesday to come out with an official report outlining a course of action for closing the terrorist detention center — coincidentally, on the very same day President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease the surrounding area in 1903.

Obama is expected to fight hard to bring the plan to fruition. He is about to leave office, and he has been saying he wants to close Guantanamo Bay since the very early days of his 2008 campaign.

But GOP members of Congress, particularly those who represent states on the list of possible relocation sites, are expected to fight back in equal measure.

“This plan is expected to present the options for the relocation of Guantanamo, but regardless of whether it is Kansas, South Carolina, or Colorado, none of these options are acceptable,” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said in a statement Monday night with U.S. GOP Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado. “Our states and our communities remain opposed to moving the world’s deadliest terrorists to U.S. soil. The terrorists at Guantanamo Bay are where they should remain – at Guantanamo Bay.”

In a brief interview with The Post and Courier, Scott reiterated Obama had a responsibility to comply with the law he enacted late last year banning the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States.

“I have low expectations that the president will say anything that I will like,” Scott said, “but the fact of the matter is he, like every other American, should follow the laws of our country and the law is very clear: No domestic locations.”

This would be the second major fight in the past month to be waged between the South Carolina Congressional delegation and the Obama administration. A few weeks ago, S.C. lawmakers erupted over Obama’s proposal to zero out funding for the MOX, or mixed-oxide fuel, facility near Aiken.

Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.