U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the Administration’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the report released by the Department labeling veterans as potential threats to our homeland during a Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Administration’s FY2010 budget proposal.
Last month, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis within DHS released the report entitled, Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. Having sent multiple letters to the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee requesting a committee hearing to further investigate the release of this report, Congressman Dent took the opportunity to broach the issue with the Secretary directly. While the Secretary has made public apologies to veterans groups after the release of the report, Congressman Dent has yet to receive any substantial reasons as to why veterans – the men and women fighting for the security of our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan – were specifically highlighted as potential extremists in a national threat assessment report.
“What will you do to keep a report like this — with content like this — from being released again?” Congressman Dent asked. The Secretary indicated that the report should not have been so widely distributed. Congressman Dent is an original cosponsor of a Resolution of Inquiry (RoI) that would require the Department to deliver any and all information pertaining to production and release of the document. DHS has fourteen legislative days to respond to the request.
Congressman Dent also pressed the Secretary for answers regarding the relocation and perhaps even release of international terrorism suspects currently housed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When the Secretary indicated that she couldn’t discuss the specifics of the facility’s closure, Congressman Dent requested a classified briefing for Members of the Homeland Security Committee. Secretary Napolitano indicated that she would work toward holding classified briefing in the future.
“I cannot allow for the prospect of dangerous terrorist suspects to be released into our communities,” Congressman Dent said after the hearing. “I respect the fact that this is a sensitive matter, but we must have the opportunity to comb through the details of the Administration’s plan to dissolve a facility currently holding individuals who pose a threat to the security of our homeland.”
Congressman Dent is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2294, the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, which would prohibit the Administration from transferring or releasing any terrorist detainees at Guantanamo to any state without express approval from the state’s governor and legislature, and certification to Congress that strict requirements have been met.