By J. Taylor Rushing - 08/04/09 03:23 PM EDT
On a conference call with reporters, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas and Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan said they were blindsided by multiple media reports over the weekend that detainees might be moved to facilities in Leavenworth, Kan., and Standish, Mich.
“This really puts men, women and children at risk,” Roberts said. “We will use every parliamentary legislative move, maybe even shutting down the Senate, before I let it happen.”
Roberts’s comments come as the Senate is scrambling to finish its legislative business before starting a monthlong break. The chamber is busy trying to pass a $2 billion infusion to the overwhelmed "cash-for-clunkers" program, approve the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and pass a handful of appropriations bills and a bill to promote tourism.
The Associated Press first reported on Sunday that a task force set up by the administration to evaluate detainee policy is considering relocating some of the 229 prisoners still being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, both Democrats, have come out in opposition to the proposal, both Roberts and Rogers noted.
The Senate already passed a measure this spring blocking funds for transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees into the U.S., but the administration has been pushing Democratic leaders to relent so that some prisoners can be tried on U.S. soil.
Roberts said he is considering a filibuster-style move, such as sending the Senate in a quorum call and objecting to any attempts to end it. The senator said he is especially concerned about terrorists being held at Fort Leavenworth since the U.S. military runs an officer college at the base.
“It would be a lot easier if the Obama administration would sit down with Mike and myself and work with us. That’s all I’m asking,” Roberts said.
Rogers acknowledged that U.S. prisons already hold dangerous inmates, but said the population at Guantanamo Bay represents “a whole new security threat.”
“These are people who are psychologically conditioned to commit murder to go to heaven,” Rogers said. “They bring a whole range of training with them … Escaping is the last thing you worry about with these people. You worry about them radicalizing the other prisoners.”