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Sen. Scott: Difficult to assess threats if detainees were to come to Naval Brig

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Members with the Department of Defense team surveyed the Consolidated Naval Brig in Hanahan Wednesday, and will again Thursday morning.

Officials with the Department of Defense say the brig is one of several sites being considered to house terror detainees if the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is closed.

Senator Tim Scott was able to meet with members of the team for roughly 45 minutes Wednesday.

"I had questions in four specific areas, and there weren't very many answers,” said Scott at a press conference shortly after that meeting.

Scott said he asked about four specific areas: community, costs, safety, and Gitmo itself.

He said DoD officials were able to comment briefly about Gitmo, “They said that Gitmo is the only institution on Earth, designed specifically to hold these enemy combatants."

Senator Scott has already publicly said he's against this plan.

He and five other South Carolina Congressmen wrote to President Obama last month to let him know they were, "prepared to use all possible means to keep terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and off American soil."

Wednesday Scott said, “"There is no compelling reason whatsoever, other than a political promise made by the President, to close down Gitmo. To replicate Gitmo, anywhere in the country would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, costs that do not need to be incurred. As a matter of fact they've already been incurred at Guantanamo Bay, and that's where the enemy combatants should stay."

The brig is currently a medium security facility. It would require a large amount of money in order to meet certain requirements for transport detainees to house.

Congressman Mark Sanford has also stated his opposition to the plan.

A few weeks ago Sanford wrote a letter to the Defense Department that explained his concerns about moving the detainees from a remote corner of Cuba, to a prison near a school, homes and a port.

Senator Scott echoed those sentiments Wednesday, “So literally in a multi-modal community like ours is, it is very, very difficult to assess all the threats that could be possible with the number of way that could have major negative impacts on our community."

Governor Nikki Haley is also against the plan.

At a press conference on August 20, she said, “Let’s be very, very clear, this is a violation of federal law. Even though the president signed this on his first day in office, Congress has never given him the support to move these terrorists into any of our states. We are absolutely drawing a line that we are not going to allow any terrorists to come into South Carolina.”

Governor. Haley continued, “My job is to protect the people of this state and I take that very personally. I will take that very personally the entire way so that the president, and Congress, and anyone involved in this decision understands that they are not wanted, they are not needed, and we will not accept them in South Carolina.”

The Charleston Naval Brig is one of several disclosed and undisclosed locations being considered by the Obama Administration.

Senator Scott said the DoD is looking at both military and civilian sites.

A statement from spokesman Commander Gary Ross Wednesday read:

“A small team of DoD officials is visiting the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina today and tomorrow.

These site surveys are necessary to determine potential locations for detaining a limited number of individuals in the United States, and to assess the costs associated with doing so.  Prudent planning and site visits are necessary in order to assess all potential locations and costs associated with any potential options.

At the locations, the assessment team will meet with facility staff to discuss engineering, force protection, troop housing, security, transportation, information security, contracting, and other operational issues. The facilities also will be assessed for their ability to serve as military commission sites.

No facility or facilities have yet been selected for possible use as a future detention facility. The site surveys are informational only and are being carried out so that we can establish a baseline assessment of costs and requirements that will help us finalize some key elements of our plan to close Guantanamo.”

In early August a similar assessment was conducted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Both Governor Haley and Kansas Governor Sam Brownbank have threatened to sue the Obama administration if detainees are brought to either state.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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