Northern Virginia is pretty much the classic example of an upscale suburban area that has gone much bluer in the past 4 years, and exactly the sort of place where it has been fashionable to be horrified by the detention without trial of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay…without giving a second thought to what you would do with those detainees if you closed the place. As long as George W. Bush was president, it was safe and easy to complain about Gitmo without facing those realities.
That was then; Bush is gone now, and with his successor actually entertaining the daft notion of bringing detainees stateside for trials in our criminal justice system, an idea long championed by Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th District (which includes Arlington and Alexandria, “the heart of Northern Virginia”) suddenly the residents of Alexandria are awakening to the problem:
“We would be absolutely opposed to relocating Guantanamo prisoners to Alexandria,” Mayor William D. Euille (D) said. “We would do everything in our power to lobby the president, the governor, the Congress and everyone else to stop it. We’ve had this experience, and it was unpleasant. Let someone else have it.”
Alexandria Sheriff Dana A. Lawhorne, who operates the city jail, said federal security requirements for housing suspects could “overwhelm the system” if multiple detainees are brought there.
City officials and some legislators are concerned that terror trials would take years, shut down roads and cost millions and could invite attacks from terrorist sympathizers. Business owners in the dense area around the courthouse — newly filled with hotels, restaurants and luxury apartments — fear disruptions amid a declining economy.
Moussaoui, who spent 23 hours a day inside his 80-square-foot cell, was constantly monitored and never saw other inmates. An entire unit of six cells and a common area was set aside just for him.
“It was a real hassle,” said Alan Yamamoto, one of his lawyers. “Bringing even two or three or four people over there is going to be a major headache.”
The 450-inmate jail was locked down every time Moussaoui was moved to the back of the nearby courthouse in a heavily armed convoy. Traffic was stopped as snipers watched from rooftops.
Read the whole thing. Of course, the Alexandrians say for now that they just want this to be some other community’s problem. But it’s going to cause trouble no matter where you go, and everybody’s got a Congressman and two Senators who will be getting an earful.
Elections have consequences. Perhaps the people of Northern Virginia are starting to realize that.