Murtha Says He'd Take Guantanamo Prisoners in His District

Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., says he'd be willing to house prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in his congressional district if President Obama makes good on a plan to close the U.S. prison there.

As one of his first acts in office, the president circulated a draft Wednesday that would shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year.

Murtha only has a minimum security prison in his district. But he says he'd have no reservations about holding detainees there in a maximum security prison.

"Sure, I'd take 'em," said Murtha, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. "They're no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo."

Murtha added that there was "no reason not to put 'em in prisons in the United States and handle them the way they would handle any other prisoners."

But that idea disturbs House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"Most communities around America don't want dangerous terrorists imported into their neighborhoods," Boehner said in a statement.

"The key question is where do you put these terrorists?" Boehner asked.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is introducing a bill that outlaws the release of a known terrorist into the U.S. Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said it would be appalling to close Guantanamo.

"If terrorists suddenly get the same rights as citizens, then we've turned the world upside down," Smith said. "We don't think there should be a limit to their detention as long as they are a clear and present danger."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., had hoped the president would close Guantanamo Bay. But he said he didn't know how best to handle the prisoners.

"They're very unsavory," Skelton said. "I don't know where you put them."

However Skelton didn't object to them staying in U.S. prisons so long as they weren't housed together.

For his part, Murtha was encouraged by Obama's proposal.

"I have said for two years that we should close down Guantanamo. Close it down. It's a sore in the United States' moral standards. What they have done there has hurt us," he said.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Murtha represented Shanksville, Pa., where one of the four hijacked planes crashed.