Key House Republicans are determined to keep suspected terrorists currently housed at Guantanamo Bay from coming to the United States for trial and incarceration.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) introduced Wednesday what's called a "discharge petition." It would force the House to consider a bill that would prevent President Obama from closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and require detainees to be tried in a military tribunal instead of at a civilian trial with a judge in the United States.
The issue intensified in recent days after the Obama Administration announced it would transfer al Qaida leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators to New York for a trial. Mohammad claims to be the mastermind behind September 11th.
"This is one of the most-dangerous decisions any president has made," said Rep. Pete King (R-NY), the leading Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.
King represents a district on Long Island outside New York City. He says he lost 150 friends on 9-11.
"It will be like reopening old wounds," King added.
The discharge petition currently has the signatures of 170 House members. All co-signers are Republicans. At least 218 signatures are necessary to force the House to consider Hoekstra's legislation. But it's an outside shot as discharge petitions are rarely successful.
One of Mr. Obama's first acts in office was the announcement that he would shutter Gitmo and transfer the detainees elsewhere. Hoekstra accused President Obama of "holding out a pot of gold" to American communities in an effort to lure them into housing prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay. Hoekstra lamented how the White House has shopped around the opportunity to lock up detainees to various communities around the United States.
"One day they're supposed to go to Colorado. Then one day, Standish, MI. Then South Carolina. Then Illinois," Hoekstra said, reading off a laundry list of various locales reported to be under consideration to take the prisoners.
Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday defended the decision to try the suspects in federal court while testifying before a Senate panel. Holder told senators that New York is the place "most likely to obtain justice for the American people."
"I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial and no one else needs to be afraid either," said Holder.
Some lawmakers like Pete King worried about bringing the suspected terrorists to the U.S. could create legal opportunities for the detainees.
"The minute they set foot on U.S. soil, they get Constitutional rights," King said. The Republican lawmakers also pointed out that the government was trying other suspects at Gitmo and wondered why all suspects weren't being tried there.