In one of his first acts in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order demanding the closure of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the year. However, he failed to explain any type of plan as to how the base would be closed, including what would be done with the prisoners within. There was immediate backlash from both sides of the aisle after the announcement. Many members introduced legislation barring detainees from facilities in their home state, and I joined every member of my Oklahoma colleagues in the House of Representatives to support H.R. 701, which would prohibit the use of funds to transfer terrorists from Guantanamo to any facility in Oklahoma.
However that backlash has not been enough to stop the President and congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi from continuing down a path most Americans oppose. The president renewed his intentions last month when he submitted a war supplemental proposal to Congress that allocated $80 million to close Guantanamo. For that reason, I have joined my colleagues to support H.R. 2294, the Keep Terrorists out of America Act.
The Keep Terrorists out of America Act would do three simple things. First, it would clearly affirm Congress’ opposition to transferring or releasing terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay to any facility within the United States. Second, it would bar the transfer of any terrorist from Guantanamo Bay to a detention facility unless the governor and legislature of that state gave expressed approval. Finally, it would require the Obama Administration notify Congress and receive certification before transferring any detainee to any state within the United States.
If there is one thing all Americans can agree on when it comes to the role of the federal government, it’s that its most important function is to ensure our national security. Some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists are housed at Guantanamo Bay, including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad the mastermind of the September 11th attacks. So how is closing this facility and transferring the detainees housed within going to make this country any safer?
I know that some here in Washington forget they are here to represent the voices of their constituents, not the voices of liberal activist groups like Code Pink and MoveOn.org. And the people of the Third District of Oklahoma have spoken loud and clear: keep terrorists out of our backyard. I will continue to fight to ensure that no detainees are transferred to the state of Oklahoma and to ensure that all Americans are kept secure from the terrorists held at Guantanamo.