House resolution: No Gitmo detainees

Brennan Stebbins

Rep. Clint Tracy (R-Cape Girardeau) wants Guantanamo Bay detainees to stay right where they are.

Tracy, successfully guided legislation through the House this week that says just that to the federal government. More specifically, House Concurrent Resolution 16, sponsored by Tracy, urges the government to “reject any asylum, containment, transport, imprisonment, or state medical care of any suspected terrorists released from United States operated foreign prisons.”

Though debate for the resolution wasn’t without fiery remarks, the legislation passed the House 126-29 Tuesday. It was a resounding victory for Tracy.

“This was about two things,” Tracy said. “Safety for Missourians and our concern as a state for the lack of a plan with dealing with these individuals, these terrorists.

“The bottom line is in January the executive order was given by the President to close down Guantanamo in response to a campaign promise,” he added. “Well, the reasons we set up those detainee centers overseas, they are not changed. Those guys are still terrorists and now the President’s in charge so there’s no reason they need to be moved to the states. Let’s deal with them where they are. It’s one less move, one less opportunity for something to go wrong. Let’s just deal with them there and do whatever we’re going to do with them. Why bring them to the states to do that?”

State Rep. Theodore Hoskins (D-Berkeley) voted against the resolution, saying it was an insult to President Obama.

“I think it’s just a slap in the President’s face,” Hoskins said. “Trying to just say no to the President. If you retain detainees seven or eight years without bringing a charge I think it’s inappropriate to continue to retain them, and anyway we can resolve that issue, if we have to bring them through Missouri or wherever, we should.

“My position is I think we need to follow the President’s lead,” Hoskins added. “If he wants to transfer them through Missouri he must have a good reason and I’m supportive of that.”

Though Missouri has not been mentioned in plans for the holding or transfer of detainees, Fort Leavenworth, roughly 30 miles west of Kansas City, is thought to be one possible destination. In a preemptive measure, the Kansas Legislature passed a similar resolution last month against holding Gitmo detainees in their state.

“Kansas adopted the same measure,” Tracy said. “We’ve got a federal medical facility, that’s another part of the problem. Once those terrorists come here, what’s their legal status? Are they federal prisoners, are they now entitled to Constitutional rights? How do we judicate that? That’s another part of the lack of planning. None of that was discussed or outlined. Maybe they come here and they want to seek political asylum. What do we do with them then?”

Rep. Trent Skaggs (D-North Kansas City) was another of the 29 lawmakers opposing the resolution, and called the debate a waste of time with more pressing issues at hand.

“I think it was just a political attempt to try to make an issue that’s not an issue,” Skaggs said. “These House joint resolutions, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. I think it was really a waste of our time.

“It was just a way to try to score political points,” he added. “Yes, they’re upset about Obama and that, but I think it’s even more than that. They’re just upset in general and it was a way to score political points. Again, I think we’ve got bigger and more pressing issues with health care and education, trying to figure out how to get the economy moving again, and instead we’re spending time on resolutions and things that aren’t binding and don’t have any legislative effect and impact.”

Despite the opposition, Tracy was relishing in the political victory.

“It was pretty hotly debated on the floor, which was interesting, but when it came time to vote it was a resounding victory,” Tracy said. “I think it’s just common sense. We’re just saying we don’t want terrorists in Missouri, and that’s a good policy.”