Kansas attorney-general sues DoD over Guantanamo Bay relocation records

The exterior of Camp Delta is seen at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. © Bob Strong
Kansas' attorney-general filed suit against the US Defense Department, claiming it failed to produce records related to President Obama's proposal to move prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth, despite a freedom of information request.

Attorney-General Derek Schmidt filed the lawsuit in federal court in Topeka, Kansas, on Friday, according to AP.

"Our concerns are heightened because the administration admits it has the records we requested and initially promised to produce them, but now are inexplicably dragging their feet until after the November election," Schmidt said in a statement. "We are seeking some court-ordered sunshine now to discourage mischief later in the final weeks before the president leaves office."

Schmidt's office said a freedom of information request was filed in December to obtain documents related to Barrack Obama's proposal to relocate inmates from Gitmo to the Army prison in Kansas.

Last year, the Defense Department surveyed seven potential sites for housing Guantanamo prisoners, including Fort Leavenworth - despite Obama's campaign promise to close the controversial prison being repeatedly blocked by Congress.

In May, US Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said a senior Pentagon official told him that no Guantanamo inmates would be sent to Fort Leavenworth or other facilities. However, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said he stressed to Roberts that the Obama Administration had not taken any location off the table.

Obama's proposal has seen wide bipartisan opposition in Kansas, with the state's majority Republican legislature adopting a resolution decrying it in March. The Kansas Senate's eight Democrats also sent a letter to Obama stressing their opposition to moving terrorism suspects to Fort Leavenworth.

However, the lawsuit isn't supported by everyone in Kansas. State Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat, said that although he opposes the proposal, “it's disappointing [Schmidt is] using state resources we don't have on a political lawsuit.”

Just last month, Obama said his administration would not issue an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, according to a report which claimed that officials deemed such a solution unviable.

Expressing disappointment that the infamous facility remains open, Obama said in March 2015 that if he could return to the first days of his presidency, he would close the prison immediately. 

“I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day,” Obama said at the time. "I didn’t at that time because we had a bipartisan agreement that it should be closed."