Hoekstra Warns Michigan Officials Against Housing Gitmo Detainees

Posted August 18, 2009 at 3:35pm

House Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) is campaigning around his state this week in protest not of health care reform, like many other Republicans, but of a possible effort by the Obama administration to transfer detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to a Michigan prison.Hoekstra testified Tuesday before the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on the security implications of taking on the Guantánamo detainees. On Thursday, he is speaking at a community meeting in Standish, Mich., to warn residents against agreeing to house the detainees in their town’s maximum-security jail.Hoekstra, whose committee role gives him access to confidential information about Guantánamo prisoners, says the prospect of transferring them to his home state poses too many risks to residents. Administration officials met with local officials last week and have been pitching the proposal as a way to bring more jobs to the area, which has been hit hard by the recession.“They’re promising big economic figures, from 1,250 to 3,000 jobs … for 40 years,— Hoekstra said. “It’s captured the attention of a lot of locals.—Last week, the Michigan Republican sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, asking them to allow him to lead a delegation of state officials and media to the Guantánamo prison to gain a better understanding of associated risks. But he said he hasn’t heard back from either of them.“I’m getting a little frustrated with the administration,— Hoekstra said. “They’re making all kinds of promises and commitments’ to local officials that they’re not willing to share with Members of Congress. I think it’s flat out wrong.—Hoekstra said that while some Standish residents may be interested in the idea as a way to lower the region’s unemployment rate, which is around 20 percent, they still recognize that the administration owes them more information before they can agree to anything.“The most powerful voice here will be coming from the locals,— Hoekstra added. “You can’t move some of the most dangerous people in the world into a community without local support. They can’t do that.—