Our guest blogger is Ken Gude, Associate Director of the International Rights and Responsibility Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
How to close Guantanamo is a very challenging and emotive issue that draws on the memories of 9/11 and justifiable anxieties about future terrorist attacks. One aspect of this saga that deserves to be addressed with rational analysis is the concern that locating some of the Guantanamo detainees within the territorial boundaries of the United States for incarceration is a dangerous risk that could pave the way for terrorist attacks on the homeland.
In my report released yesterday, I recommend that the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, among a few other possible locations, could imprison a small number of the Guantanamo detainees. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), reacted swiftly and harshly to that prospect, describing my analysis as “misleading and inaccurate” and asserting that “Fort Leavenworth has neither the space nor the security arrangements to handle detainees from Guantanamo Bay.”
This statement seems at odds with Ft. Leavenworth’s mission and “Can Do” motto. The Disciplinary Barracks is the only maximum security facility in the entire military prison system. While the old prison at Ft. Leavenworth was commonly referred to as “the Castle,” that stone and brick facility was replaced in 2002 by a “new state-of-the-art, 515-bed” detention center complete with a special housing unit for maximum security prisoners. The maximum security wing is isolated from the rest of the facility, three guards are assigned to each inmate, and every inch of the prison is covered by video surveillance.
Another possible location I identify is the brig at the Naval Base in Charleston, South Carolina. Although it is only a medium security facility, it has already been the home of designated enemy combatants Jose Padilla and Yasser Hamdi, and currently holds Ali Al-Marri. If Charleston, a lower security level facility, can accomplish that mission, it seems logical that Ft. Leavenworth could safely and securely imprison some of the Guantanamo detainees.
The number of detainees at issue here is relatively small, in the neighborhood of 50 detainees with the majority of those ending up at the “supermax” penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. Sen. Brownback clearly believes that Ft. Leavenworth can not handle even a small number of Guantanamo detainees. He should know then, that the candidate he enthusiastically endorsed for president of the United States, Senator John McCain, has repeatedly pledged that he would close Guantanamo and move all of the approximately 270 remaining detainees to Ft. Leavenworth. Read more