By Chris Wright, News On 6
UNDATED -- Senator Jim Inhofe wants to keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay open and he is traveling there to make his case.
Senator Inhofe spoke with the News On 6 before leaving Sunday afternoon.
Inhofe believes Gitmo is a "resource we still need," but admits that he is fighting an uphill battle to change public perception about the detention center.
"People are all assuming that all this torture and all this was going on, it just wasn't happening," said Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).
Senator Inhofe says Guantanamo Bay is suffering from a bit of an image problem. He believes the prisoners are treated well, are being prevented from harming Americans and the facility should not be closed.
He's heading up the Republican effort to try to make that happen. Inhofe and three other Senators will tour Gitmo on Monday.
"The public has been dramatically misled into thinking that we are abusing detainees, terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. We are not," said Senator Inhofe.
President Obama and Democratic leaders disagree. On his second day in office, President Obama signed an executive order that will close Gitmo within a year and bans harsh interrogation tactics.
"We intend to win this fight. We intend to win it on our terms," said President Obama.
If Gitmo is closed, Senator Inhofe strongly opposes moving detainees to federal prisons like Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He worries that if prisoners are released on legal technicalities, they could end up in the general population.
"If we don't have it, we've got to find someplace else. I'm afraid the tendency would be to look on American soil. I don't want that to happen," said Senator Inhofe.
Still, Inhofe says he appreciates the recent bi-partisan overtures from the new president, but he says closing Gitmo is something he and his fellow Republicans simply cannot get behind.
"We don't want a bunch of terrorists wandering around America," said Senator Inhofe.
Senator Inhofe will only be in Guantanamo Bay for a few hours on Monday. He says he has to make it back to Washington for a vote Monday evening.
The News On 6 also asked Senator Inhofe his thoughts on the economy. He said the $880 billion stimulus plan has only about $30 billion of road projects that would put people to work.
"Hopefully the Republicans ... if they have the courage of the House ... they'll stick together and we can do something real for stimulating the economy," he said.
Inhofe says he believes President Obama is making a sincere effort but says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid are making it difficult.