If enacted, the legislation, released on Tuesday by Reps. Jeff Duncan and Nancy Mace of South Carolina would guarantee that no Defense Department funds “may be used to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer of or release” of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay “to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions.”
Earlier this month, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said the Biden NSC was beginning a method “to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo.” She said the NSC “will work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility" in "close consultation" with Congress.
“Naval Station Guantanamo Bay has long housed the most dangerous enemy combatants captured by our United States Military. It is common sense policy that we keep these terrorists far away from American citizens and out of our judicial system. Unfortunately, President Biden has signaled his intent to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, which could lead to the transfer or release of the dangerous GITMO prisoners to the United States,” Duncan said, adding that “no state should become a dumping ground for terrorists.”
Under the Obama administration, the Navy’s Consolidated Brig in Charleston was looked at as a possible site to transfer some Guantanamo Bay prisoners to, though the proposal was met with resistance by South Carolina leaders. The Pentagon also looked at the maximum-security prison at Fort Leavenworth, but Kansas politicians were likewise opposed to the idea.
"Moving some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world to U.S. soil is unacceptable and irresponsible,” Mace said Tuesday, adding, “any plan to transfer these prisoners to the U.S., such as the Obama-era proposal to transfer the prisoners to the Charleston Brig, is unacceptable. These terrorists are the worst of the worst and should not be held on American soil.”
In January, Biden’s then-nominee for defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, said in a written affidavit that “I believe it is time for the detention facility at Guantanamo to close its doors” and said he would direct his staff to “develop a path forward for the remaining 40 detainees at the facility.”
Former President Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo while running for office in 2008, and on his second day in office, he signed an executive order to stop it within a year, though his efforts were generally opposed by the House and Senate from 2009 onward.