Gitmo Detainees in Michigan: Not in My Backyard

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You have seen the healthcare town halls, but people in Michigan had a whole different town hall today. The fire hot topic was Gitmo prisoners.

Why would Michigan be so interested in Gitmo prisoners? Well, because they may get them whether they like it or not.

President Obama's administration has its eyes on a state prison, the one in Standish, Michigan. The Standish prison is slated to be close, but President Obama thinks he can kill two birds with one stone.

He can stash the Gitmo prisoners there and get rid of that headache. And with a new prison population, deeper prison open -- and yes, jobs in a state that has a huge unemployment rate.

Residents, though, in Standish, had a town hall, and a woman whose brother died on 9/11 had a stern warning.


DEBRA BURLINGAME, SISTER OF PILOT WHO DIED ON 9/11: These detainees are not like ordinary criminals. Yes, the federal prison system is very good at dealing with hardened sociopaths, serial killers, and rapists.

But those hardened criminals do not have global jihadi networks outside of the wire and over the walls where they are kept that are preparing to come and do martyrdom operations. If they are brought here and a federal judge orders them to be released, where do you think they are going to go? They are going to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My biggest concern is not whether they break out. It will be who breaks them out. And what are they going to do to break the matter this prison? Will they take one of your schools hostage? You do not want these guys in Michigan.


VAN SUSTEREN: Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra was at the town hall today. He joins us live. Good evening, Congressman.


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, will you get Gitmo prisoners at the prison, or not?

HOEKSTRA: I don't believe that these individuals will be moved to Standish, Michigan. I don't believe that they are going to move -- be moved to the United States. I think this administration will figure out that the American people don't want them on the American soil. They want them left right where they are, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

VAN SUSTEREN: What option do you have at that state prison? Can you just say no?

HOEKSTRA: I think for the federal government to move them into this prison, they would have to reach an agreement with the governor of Michigan.

I hope that we declassify certain pieces of classified information so that our governor and our legislature will see clearly that this is a problem that the president created. Moving them to Standish is a dangerous choice.

It fixes the president's problem but creates a whole new realm and range of problems for Standish, Michigan, and for the state of Michigan that we don't want.

VAN SUSTEREN: I am curious how much the federal government would pay per Gitmo prisoner if they put them in your state prison.

I know that recently your state got rejected. You want to take some California prisoners, but you wanted to charge them $83 a day. And California found a state that would only charge them $63 a day, so you lost that bid.

How much would you get if anything for the federal prisoners?

HOEKSTRA: We would never get enough for the risk we would be taking. But the federal government, the Department of Defense has not been very transparent at all. Most likely, we would not get anything because rather that this being a state prison, it would move into a military organization or a federal prison.

So we would not be reimbursed. We would just get the new federal jobs if this facility was reopened under federal control in the state of Michigan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any estimate on how many jobs you would get, you would save at the Standish prison?

HOEKSTRA: The indications are that some people -- the loose promises or inferences have been made that this might be around 1,200 jobs. Others have said that this could be approaching 3000 jobs.

But the government hasn't been very transparent with state or local officials about exactly what they are willing to promise if they move these people into Gitmo.

But the bottom line, Greta, this is a very, very bad idea. It shouldn't happen. This enables the president to keep a promise and to fix a problem that he created.

But all he really does is create a whole new set of problems both from a security standpoint and from a legal standpoint by moving these people to either Standish, Michigan or Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or some other place within the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Granholm is a Democrat, so I guess the buck would stop with her. Do you know what her position is on taking Gitmo prisoners at the facility in Standish?

HOEKSTRA: She has indicated that she has severe reservations about this action taking place. I think she wants more information. We should have state officials have the opportunity to go visit Gitmo.

We also ought to declassify this information about who these people are, what they've done, and more important, what we've learned about their capabilities is as we have held them in confinement and as we have detained them over the last six years.

VAN SUSTEREN: We only have 30 seconds left. I take it health care was also a topic at the town hall?

HOEKSTRA: It came up very, very briefly. It came out. They said, the president is on a streak of lots of bad ideas, moving the prisoners to Gitmo, the stimulus package, they cash for clunkers. And then they threw a healthcare into that same genre of bad decisions coming out of this administration.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

HOEKSTRA: Thanks, Greta.

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