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Carl Levin Open to “Guantanamo North” in Michigan

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Carl Levin Open to “Guantanamo North” in Michigan"

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The right-wing’s bizarre NIMBY-based attack on the idea of closing Guantanamo Bay has gotten a surprising amount of support. But some legislators may actually want some new prisoners. Take Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) for example:

Most lawmakers view the prospect of moving prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to their districts as a negative proposition. But at least one Democratic senator is open to the idea as a potential economic boost to his struggling state.

Carl Levin , chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that construction and staffing at a new maximum-security prison in Michigan could help his cash-starved state. [. . .] Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, a Republican, suggested this month that creating a “Guantánamo North” in the Upper Peninsula could net the state upward of $1 billion per year, according to reports.

Now back to basics. As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy said yesterday, it would be nice if lawmakers could take a “more strategic” view of this issue. Closing the facility is important to rebuilding America’s international relationships. And given that the country already has a large number of highly secure detention facilities, there’s no compelling reason to build a new one in the Upper Peninsula. But by the same token if for some reason that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.

For a quick-but-serious overview of the real issues at stake here, as opposed to the political hype, I would recommend my colleague Ken Gude’s Closing Guantanamo 101 issue brief.

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