Kansas attorney general sues to get Guantánamo Bay records

In this Jan. 23, 2015, file photo, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt talks to lawmakers at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas.
In this Jan. 23, 2015, file photo, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt talks to lawmakers at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The state’s attorney general sued the U.S. Department of Defense Friday, accusing the government of failing to produce records related to President Barack Obama’s proposal to move detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed the lawsuit in federal court in Topeka. Schmidt’s office said in the lawsuit it has not received any records from a freedom of information request filed in December.

“Our concerns are heightened because the administration admits it has the records we requested and initially promised to produce them but now are inexplicably dragging their feet until after the November election,” Schmidt, a Republican, said in a statement. “We are seeking some court-ordered sunshine now to discourage mischief later in the final weeks before the president leaves office.”

The Defense Department last year surveyed seven potential sites for housing the prisoners, including Fort Leavenworth. But the Democratic president’s campaign promise to close the prison for terror suspects in Cuba has been blocked by strong congressional opposition. In fact, Congress has included prohibitions on moving Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. in annual defense policy bills.

In May, Kansas U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said a senior Pentagon official had told him that no detainees would be sent to Fort Leavenworth or other facilities in the United States. But Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said he made clear to Roberts that the Obama administration has not taken any location off the table for relocating Guantánamo detainees.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie D. Henderson said the Pentagon does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The administration proposal has seen bipartisan opposition in Kansas. In March, the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature adopted a resolution decrying the proposal, and the Kansas Senate’s eight Democrats also sent a letter to Obama opposing moving terror suspects to Fort Leavenworth.

State Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat from Wichita, said he is among those who oppose moving detainees to Fort Leavenworth, but he believes Schmidt’s lawsuit is a waste of time and money.

“It’s disappointing he’s using state resources we don’t have on a political lawsuit,” Ward said.

Salter reported from St. Louis.