Pentagon team to assess South Carolina site for Gitmo detainees

Pentagon team to assess South Carolina site for Gitmo detainees
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Pentagon officials are visiting the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C., later this week to assess its suitability to house Guantánamo Bay detainees.

"A small team of DoD officials will visit the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, Sept. 2 - 3," said Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross on Tuesday.

Officials are looking for a site to house the approximately 50 detainees who are not currently eligible for transfer.

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The assessment, and those of other sites, will inform the plan to close the Cuban detention facility that Congress requested from the Pentagon.

"These site surveys are necessary to determine potential locations for detaining a limited number of individuals in the United States, and to assess the costs associated with doing so," Ross said.

"Prudent planning and site visits are necessary in order to assess all potential locations and costs associated with any potential options."

The visit follows one made to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Both visits are prompting backlash from Republican state leaders and lawmakers, who oppose the president's plan to relocate suspected terrorists in their states.

"Simply put, we do not want them in our states," read a letter from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sent last month to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

"Please know that we will take any action within our power to make sure no Guantanamo Bay detainees are transferred to South Carolina or Kansas," they added.

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Kan.) has also vowed to fight any transfers to his state, and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump helps raise million in first six months of 2021 Senate passes bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to first Black NHL player Scott: 'There is hope' for police reform bill MORE (R-S.C.) has started a petition against such transfers. The two also authored an op-ed together against any potential transfers.

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranGraham: Bipartisan infrastructure pay-fors are insufficient This week: Democrats move forward with Jan. 6 probe Bipartisan senators ask CDC, TSA when they will update mask guidance for travelers MORE (R-Kan.) has also said he is opposed to any transfers to Fort Leavenworth.

Scott will also be at the Charleston visit and plans to travel to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility later this fall.

"Sen. Scott will be attending parts of the tour and will be conveying his beliefs to the surveying team that Charleston is not the place where these dangerous terrorists should be housed," said his press secretary Sean Conner. 

"His belief is that they should not be housed on U.S. soil at all," he added. 

The Pentagon hopes to send Congress a plan to close the facility sometime after lawmakers reconvene in September.

Congress has banned any detainee transfers to the U.S., but a provision in the Senate's version of the 2016 defense policy bill authored by Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (R-Ariz.), the Armed Services Committee chairman, would lift those restrictions if the administration submits a plan on closing the facility to Congress that is approved.

—This story was updated at 6:18 p.m.