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Va. Republicans want ban on Guantánamo detainees

Detainees bow before they pray at Camp Delta, the U.S. Navy base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Jan. 24, 2008.
Detainees bow before they pray at Camp Delta, the U.S. Navy base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Jan. 24, 2008. US NAVY

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three GOP congressmen from Virginia want to ban the federal government from transferring prisoners from Cuba's Guantánamo Bay detention facility to their state.

Reps. Randy Forbes, Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf have introduced a bill that would prohibit the detainees from being transferred to any federal prison or military base in Virginia.

President Barack Obama has ordered the terrorist detention center closed within a year. Several detention facilities based inside the U.S., including in Virginia, have been mentioned as possible locations where detainees could be relocated.

Forbes said in a statement Friday that the prisoners' terrorist connections raise "significant security questions about moving these suspects to facilities within Virginia, especially as many of the facilities are within miles of neighborhoods, military bases and schools."

Cantor's office referred to a previous statement issued by the congressmen.

"The single most important role of government is to defend our nation and protect innocent Americans from those who seek to destroy our way of life," said Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, in the statement. "Virginians do not want terrorists with connections to al Qaeda in their backyard."

Wolf called moving Guantánamo prisoners to Virginia "a nonstarter" and not open to discussion.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the federal government is examining a wide range of options for each detainee.

"We won't prejudge that process," he said.

Several other lawmakers have come out against moving the prisoners to their states, and other bills are pending in Congress as well. The lawmakers cite reasons such as insufficient prison space, no onsite medical facilities and close proximity to high-population centers.