Seeking to calm fears that al Qaeda terrorists could be set free on U.S. soil, Attorney General Eric Holder pledged today that prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility would not be released in the United States.
"We would not bring them into this country and release them," Holder said.
The Obama administration promises to close the detainment center in just eight months. Holder did not rule out some of detainees being brought to the United States for trial.
The possibility of terrorists coming to America has been met with "Not in My Backyard" objections from members of both major political parties.
Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., asked CBS News this question: "Do you know of any community in the United States of America that would welcome terrorists?"
"Let me tell you what I worry about, first of all the safety of our community," Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said.
Most of the 241 detainees being held at Guantanamo are expected to be released or transferred to other countries.
2541531The hard-core terrorists like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and top al Qaeda operative Ramzi bin al Shibh will not be released. They are among 20 or so high-ranking al Qaeda figures that the government may be forced to put on trial in US military or civilian courts.
In a preemptive strike, Republicans today introduced legislation aimed at keeping terror suspects out of the country.
"Putting these people in the middle of our communities puts those communities at risk," Representative Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said.
Yet terrorist suspects have been safely prosecuted in the U.S. before. Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted in Virginia of being an al Qaeda operative and Shaik Abdul Rahman was found guilty in New York of planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Those two and five other al Qaeda operatives are already in US prisons, including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Khalid Sheik Mohammed's nephew, bomb-making expert Ramzi Youssef.
Holder stressed that no decisions have been made as to what to do with the terror suspects. But the Obama administration has itself in a jam, facing a self-imposed January deadline with few good options.