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State attorneys general say Gitmo detainee transfers would be illegal

Three state attorneys general told President Obama on Wednesday that any attempt to relocate Guantanamo Bay detainees to their states would be illegal.

"We understand you are prepared to take executive action to move detainees from Guantanamo Bay to locations in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina. We implore you to reject this dangerous and illegal action that would violate federal law and harm our States," the attorneys general for those states wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama.

Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina are being evaluated as future homes for the detainees, but the three states don't want to take them for security reasons.

"Moving detainees to the mainland will create imminent danger and make the communities where they are placed targets, which is precisely what the restrictive language enacted by Congress is designed to prevent," the letter said. "Recent attacks in France, Egypt, Lebanon and elsewhere underscore the risk your illegal action would bring to our states."

Carter: "I'm not confident" Guantanamo will close during Obama administration

Congress has passed a defense policy bill that prevents the transfer of detainees from the Cuba-based prison to the U.S., which the White House said it expects President Obama to sign, the attorneys general pointed out.

Despite that legislation, the administration has said it's planning to send Congress a comprehensive plan to close the prison whereby detainees could be transferred to both U.S. facilities and to other countries abroad. The White House has not ruled out using executive action if Congress rejects the proposal.

The attorneys general said they've spoken with Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, about the issue and they quoted Attorney General Loretta Lynch who acknowledged Tuesday that U.S. law prohibits detainee transfers to the U.S.

"With respect to individuals being transferred to the United States, the law currently does not allow that," she told the House Judiciary Committee. "That is not, as I am aware of, going to be contemplated, given the legal prescriptions."

Lynch added, "Certainly it is the position of the Department of Justice that we would follow the law of the land in regard on that issue."

Republicans have already blasted the administration for transferring five Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United Arab Emirates following the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday.

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