Noting Orlando shooting, Hudson hopes to keep prisoners in Guantanamo

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 17, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — As policymakers discuss ways to prevent future instances of terrorism, one of Rowan’s members of the U.S. House hopes to keep a military prison open for at least one more year.

The U.S. House passed its fiscal year 2017 defense appropriations act on Thursday. Contained in the act is an amendment introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8. It would essentially prevent any prisoner still housed in Guantanamo Bay detention camp from being transferred out during the 2016-2017 federal fiscal year, which starts on October 1 and ends Sept 30, 2017.

When the appropriations act passed the House on Thursday, Hudson noted the importance of his amendment by saying closing Guantanamo Bay is naive and dangerous. He said the amendment is “another hurdle” to make sure President Barack Obama isn’t able to close Guantanamo Bay.

In a speech on the House floor one day earlier, Hudson specifically noted the Orlando shooting, where a man entered a gay club and killed 49 people. The shooter, however, obtained his weapons legally and was born in the United States.

“Over the weekend, we were tragically reminded of the very real threat of radical Islam when 49 Americans were murdered in the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11,” Hudson said. “As we continue to mourn and pray for the victims and their families, we must recommit our efforts to defeat those who want to harm us.”

Hudson said Guantanamo Bay detention camp houses some of the world’s most dangerous war criminals, and it’s important prisoners won’t return to terrorist activities.

When Hudson’s measure was discussed on the U.S. House floor, two members of the U.S. House — both Democrats — spoke in opposition to Hudson’s proposal. One opponent expressed concerns about how leaving inmates in Guantanamo would negatively affect spending. It would cost more to leave an inmate in Guantanamo than in a super maximum federal prison in the United States. Another questioned what would happen to a person who was found to be innocent, but couldn’t leave Guantanamo because of Hudson’s proposal.

“These are some of the most violent, dangerous criminals in the world, and this president has shown that he is willing to transfer them to other places where the risk of them escaping back to the battlefield is very high,” Hudson said on the floor of the U.S. House. “And so, at this time, I believe we can’t risk that, and I think the American people are counting on us to put their interests first.”

The overall act, including Hudson’s amendment, passed Wednesday by a bipartisan count of 282 to 138. It next heads to the U.S. Senate before heading to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Rowan County’s U.S. representatives voted 2-1 in favor of the measure. Hudson and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5, voted in favor. Rep. Alma Adams, D-12, voted against.

Starting in 2017, the 5th and 12th congressional district will shift out of Rowan County because of a redistricting. Rowan County will remain in the 8th District. The 13th Congressional District will move into Rowan.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.