S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and State Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, have said they will sign a letter, written by one of their fellow Republican candidates for governor, opposing the transfer of terrorism suspects form Cuba to a Charleston naval prison.
U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-Westminster, asked the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates to sign a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday opposing the transfer of any of the more than 200 Afghan and Iraq war detainees being held at the to-be-closed Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center.
McMaster agreed but said Barrett should not have been caught off-guard since President Obama has pledged to close the Cuban prison.
"I can't understand why anyone would be surprised by the news. Barack Obama announced his plans to close Guantanamo Bay during the presidential campaign. It hasn't exactly been a secret," McMaster said in a statement. "Congress should have taken action on this issue long ago. National security is a federal issue. The United States Congress is the branch of government with the jurisdiction and the legal authority to stop the president from making unwise decisions that threaten the security of our nation."
Haley also said that, as a member of Congress, Barrett has a chance to do more than write protest letters to President Barack Obama opposing the transfer. Barrett can introduce legislation to prevent the transfer, Haley said.
Haley said she agreed with Barrett -- the prisoners should not come to South Carolina -- but she chided him on a lack of action.
"Because your position is right, I will be happy to sign your letter," Haley wrote. "However, calling on candidates for governor to join you in a letter to President Obama, rather than asking your colleagues in Congress -- who are actually in a position to prevent this potentially dangerous situation -- to do the same, strikes me as little more than political grandstanding."
Haley also suggested Barrett write Obama opposing further use of federal money to bailout banks.
Earlier Wednesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mullins McLeod of Charleston flatly rejected Barrett’s call, saying accepting the prisoners could be part of South Carolina’s role in the war against terror.