U.S. House members Gresham Barrett and Henry Brown have come out against the proposed closing of Guantanamo Bay facility and the relocation of prisoners to a Navy brig in the Charleston area.
Barrett says the Obama Administration plans to transfer up to ten suspected terrorists to the brig. Low Country Congressman Henry Brown is an original co-sponsor of the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act. Together Brown and Barrett have co-sponsored legislation to restrict funding on moving any detainees to South Carolina.
Barrett has put up legislation that would require the prior approval of the governor and legislature of a state before detainees are relocated to that state.
Barrett says the port city could already be on the terrorist hit list. “I think Charleston is a tremendous target already,” says the Republican, “and to put another nail in the coffin, so to speak, is totally unacceptable.”
Barrett says housing terrorist suspects is serious business, not like the incarceration of dime store thieves.
Barrett is running for Governor. He wrote letters to other gubernatorial candidates, asking them to sign a letter to the President asking him to stop the transfer. Democratic candidate Mullins McLeod wrote him back, and told him that he could “take his letter and shove it.” But Barrett says he’s not going to support something just because the President says so.
“The way I read the constitution, it’s three equal branches of government,” says Barrett. “I’m in the legislative branch and I represent South Carolina along with other interests and I will fight the President hand and tooth on this issue.”
Lt. Governor André Bauer is asking that Governor Mark Sanford, State Adjutant General Stan Spears, and Attorney General Henry McMaster meet with him so the state’s top executive, legal, and military leaders can determine that civilian security is not threatened by the potential transfer of detainees to Charleston. Bauer says Charleston is one of the top tourist destinations in the US and he says state leaders can’t let the issue jeopardize the state’s economic interests concentrated around the port city, including shipping and aeronautics industries.
Fellow gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, a state representative, says Barrett’s letter to candidates asking them to write the President in opposition strikes her as grandstanding.
“Well, you know, if keeping my state safe and secure is grandstanding, then I’m guilty,” says Barrett. “If not allowing a known terrorist to come to my state and make it a bigger target is grandstanding, then guilty. If continuing to do my job as US Congressman and being forward thinking is grandstanding, guilty. I think this is getting out in front and letting the Obama Administration know exactly where South Carolina stands.”