On Thursday, President Obama directed the closing of the terrorist detention center
in Guantanamo Bay, but not for a year.
Senator McCain thinks Obama was too hasty and failed to consider where the terrorists detained at Guantanamo will go:
“So, the easy part, in all due respect, is to say we’re going to close Guantanamo,” McCain said. “Then I think I would have said where they were going to be taken. Because you’re going to run into a NIMBY [not in my backyard] problem here in the United States of America.”
Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that Obama’s order to close the terrorist prison sounds dramatic and unequivocal, but “experts predict that American policy towards detainees could remain for months or even years pretty close to what it was as President Bush left office.”
President Bush also wanted to close the terrorist detention facility. He directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to try to repatriate detainees to their home countries, make sure they are held safely and treated humanely and that they are not allowed to perpetrate acts of terrorism.
In 2007, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration continued to struggle with how to address security concerns that could result from closing Guantanamo:
“The president has said he would like nothing better than at some point to shut down Guantanamo Bay, but there are a number of steps that need to be taken between here and that stated objective and they are tough issues,” McCormack said. “There are people down at Guantanamo Bay who are very, very dangerous and you can’t just let them walk free.”
What do you do with these terrorists? Do you imprison them here? Do you release them back into the battlefield?
Since 2002, nearly 520 detainees have been released from detention facility. According to CNN, 61 of those former prisoners have or are suspected of rejoining the war Islamic extremists continue to wage against the U.S. One has even become the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch.
Pennsylvania Democrat, John Murtha, told Fox News he’d be willing to house Guantanamo prisoners in his Congressional district. Most Americans don’t want those terrorists in their neighborhood.
Time reports there are six prisons that could house the terrorists held at Guantanamo:
1. U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – a 515-bed military prison, the only maximum-security prison in the Department of Defense:
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican, have publicly opposed the idea of bringing Gitmo inmates to Leavenworth, which is in close proximity to the surrounding community, including an airport, farms and hospitals. Brownback, terming such a transfer as “unwise and unsafe,” has also introduced legislation calling for 90 days’ notice prior to transferring enemy combatants to another possible site, in Charleston, S.C.
2. U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig, Charleston, South Carolina – a medium-security prison, the brig can hold up to 288 inmates:
The facility is within walking distance of the Port of Charleston and within two miles of civilian residences. Congressman Henry Brown, a Republican, has said moving Gitmo inmates there would be a “a high-risk move … I am fearful for what they might bring with them, and I think it would put the local citizens at risk.”
3. Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California – the Marines’ largest training facility on the West Coast:
But the local Republican Congressman, Representative Duncan D. Hunter, has mounted a fierce campaign against transferring detainees there. “The facilities, as they stand right now, are not designed to house large populations of inmates — they’re not prisons,” says Hunter’s spokesman Joe Kasper. Pendleton has more than 2,600 buildings and structures, along with 7,300 housing units with 14,000 military family members.
Hunter introduced legislation on Thursday to prohibit the transfer of Gitmo inmates to Pendleton or to the nearby Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. “Redirecting these detainees to Camp Pendleton would present a serious threat to surrounding military installations and resources, as well as the community’s civilian population,” Hunter wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this month.
4. Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, San Diego, California – the 23-acre Miramar facility can hold up to 400 prisoners:
Home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Miramar was included in the bill introduced by Congressman Hunter to prohibit transferring Guantánamo detainees to existing facilities or constructing new detention facilities in the same areas.
5. U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, Florence, Colorado – the 37-acre” Supermax” prison has 490 beds and at present holds 430 prisoners:
This federal prison 90 is minutes outside Denver.
6. Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City – located in lower Manhattan across the street from the federal courthouse, the high-rise Metropolitan Correctional Center primarily detains pretrial and holdover inmates.
Are any of those facilities near your neighborhood?
Obama’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, claims that closing the terrorist detention center somehow “made America safer.” I don’t see how. I agree with House Republican Leader John Boehner, as long as it is necessary to protect our national security interests, the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should remain open.