Faced with bipartisan resistance to the idea of releasing any of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay into the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday promised a Senate committee that he would not release any suspected terrorists into the United States, CNN reports.
Lucky for the Chinese Uighurs currently held there, about seven of whom Holder is reportedly planning to release into Virginia, they are no longer considered terrorists, or “enemy combatants” as the Bush administration called them.
Holder’s appearance was just part of the delicate balancing act that has him caught between President Obama’s promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by the end of this year, and other politicians’ fears about how their constituents will react if any of the men — long deemed by the previous administration “the worst of the worst” — are released into their home states.
Even Democrats such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland demanded “consultation” with lawmakers and governors before any release decisions are made, and insisted on “no surprises.”
And Republicans have for weeks been campaigning against Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo. On Thursday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) insisted that the plan to close the Guantanamo prison “presents a clear and present danger to American lives.”
Republicans on Thursday also introduced the “Keep Terrorists Out of America Act” to prevent the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the United States without the consent of both the governor and legislature of the states where they’d be sent.
On Thursday, Holder promised that “We would not bring them into this country and release them, anyone we would consider to be a terrorist,” adding that the safety of the American public will be his “paramount concern.”