Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts wants voters to be afraid of terrorists ending up in a military prison in the state — even though that will probably never happen. Nonetheless, the Republican has vowed to protect Kansans from the unlikely possibility if they reelect him.
Roberts, a Republican who is locked in a tight race against independent Greg Orman, said Thursday that President Obama is planning to relocate detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to the United States. Roberts opposed a 2009 proposal to relocate some detainees to Fort Leavenworth, and claims that recent reports that Obama is looking for ways to bring some detainees to the U.S. and close Guantanamo mean Kansas will soon be home to terrorists.
"The president is now saying that he's going to renew his efforts to put all of the Gitmo terrorists somewhere in the continental United States, and you know where he's going to try to put them, and that's right here," Roberts said, according to the Associated Press.
"I've got news for the president," he said. "Not on my watch! We're not going to do that."
Congress banned the transfer of prisoners to the United States in 2010, and despite Obama's campaign promise to close Guantanamo, 149 men remain there. Eighty of them have been cleared for release or transfer to another country. The White House has said nothing that indicates the president wants to move any detainees to Fort Leavenworth.
Members of the Senate were outraged in May when the administration traded five members of the Taliban who were detained at Guantanamo for American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl. They were angry because the administration did not notify them 30 days before the transfer, as the law requires. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina threatened impeachment if Obama released more prisoners without notifying the Senate.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama was again exploring options to close the notorious prison by using executive orders to override Congress’ ban on transfers to the U.S.
While there is no Democrat running against Roberts in Republican-dominated Kansas, a poll released this week showed Orman running slightly ahead of Roberts.
“I don’t think I’m fear-mongering at all,” Roberts said when asked by the Associated Press about his statements.