Top prosecutors in three states being assessed as potential future homes for Guantánamo Bay detainees implored the Obama administration on Wednesday not to send the prisoners to their states.
In the letter, attorneys general from Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina said that bringing detainees to their areas “will create imminent danger” and make “targets” out of the communities where they are placed.
“Your proposed action denigrates the Constitution and defies the rule of law,” the prosecutors wrote. “It disrupts domestic tranquility and therefore the general welfare of the states.”
The letter to President Barack Obama was signed by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. In it, the prosecutors gave the administration until Dec. 4 to respond.
Closing the detention center has been a top priority for Obama, and a Defense Department team has surveyed seven sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas that could be the next address for some of the 107 captives currently housed at Guantánamo Bay. That number had been 112 up until Friday, when five men who had been held there for more than 13 years were released to the United Arab Emirates.
The closure effort has faced hurdles, including opposition among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a vocal critic of the closure plans, recently visited the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, saying afterward he was more convinced than ever the site should stay open as is.
Governors have also made their own pleas to the Obama administration. Earlier this year, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that they would not “be part of any illegal and ill-advised action by this Administration, especially when that action relates to importing terrorists into our states,” and threatened to sue if necessary.
Last week, Brownback said Guantánamo should continue to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely because the U.S. is in a war with terrorism “for some time to come.” Like the attorneys general, he said moving prisoners from Guantánamo will compromise the nation’s security and harm its troops.
Dozens of sheriffs in Colorado have also written the administration, saying detainee movement would endanger citizens.
A White House report is assessing the feasibility of using the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility at Leavenworth, Kansas; the Consolidated Naval Brig, in Hanahan, South Carolina; the Federal Correctional Complex, which includes the medium, maximum and supermax facilities in Florence, Colorado; and the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City, Colorado, also known as the Centennial Correctional Facility.