Politics

Sen. Michael Bennet Shifts Stance on Taking Gitmo Detainees

Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base / AP

Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) is now voicing concern about transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Colorado despite voting three times against legislation that would have blocked terrorists from being moved to prisons in the United States.

Pentagon officials are currently visiting prisons, including one medium-security facility, in Florence and Cañon City, Colo., to determine whether they could house Gitmo detainees.

Republicans across the state have strongly objected to the transfer of any detainees to Colorado. Sen. Bennet also protested, telling the Denver Post, "The Department of Defense has no authority to transfer these prisoners or make such modifications and they have made no case that it makes sense to do so."

However, Bennet has not supported legislation that would have blocked the administration from transferring any Gitmo detainees to the United States.

Bennet voted against an amendment in November 2013 that would have prohibited moving any detainee to the United States for one year. He voted against similar amendments in 2012 and 2009, which would have blocked funding towards transferring prisoners at Gitmo.

He voiced support in May 2009 for withholding funding used to transfer detainees to a Supermax prison in Colorado, but voted to table an amendment that November that would have done so. The amendment would have blocked funding to "construct or modify a facility in the United States or its territories to permanently or temporarily hold any individual held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Bennet’s shift comes after criticism for his support of the Iran nuclear agreement.

"Sen. Bennet is clearly concerned that his weak national security record is going to be a major problem for him in his reelection and is trying to re-write history," said Amelia Chassé, press secretary for America Rising PAC. "Unfortunately for Sen. Bennet the facts are clear: his votes paved the way for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to American soil, and empty campaign rhetoric can’t change that."