One day before President Obama ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said he would be willing to facilitate the process by bringing some of the detainees into his district. “Sure, I’d take them,” Murtha said. “I mean, they’re no more dangerous in a prison in my district than they are in Guantanamo.”
Fox News’s Glenn Beck called Murtha a “clown” yesterday because of the proposal. But Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, may have won top prize for the most absurd reaction. Calling the idea “ludicrous,” Gramley’s main complaint seems to be that the al Qaeda suspects will indoctrinate the other American inmates:
“I don’t think the average murderer or rapist hates all Americans or hates what America stands for like the terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo,” said Gramley, who lives in Venango County. “You intermix them with the prison population, and there’s the very real possibility they would influence those individuals in prison.”
While one local chamber of commerce president said he does not “see any downside” to Murtha’s idea because it would mean bringing jobs to the area, Pentagon officials are eying other military prisons in South Carolina, Kansas, and California.
But Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) have expressed strong reservations at housing former Gitmo detainees in their state. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) said the Obama White House “should be ready for a fight” if it decides to move the terror suspects to South Carolina. “Transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil will endanger American lives,” DeMint said.
However, defense experts have stated the opposite, that the Guantanamo debacle has led directly to American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. But also, former Gitmo detainees will be locked in maximum security prisons and would pose no more danger than some of America’s most dangerous inmates:
— CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted, “We have a legal system in this country that has tried Zacarias Moussaoui. It has tried the blind sheik. We have had terrorism trials. These people are in prison. Our legal system is completely capable.”
— “We have thousands of prisoners incarcerated who are as evil, violent and uncontrollable as I imagine any of the terrorist detainees are,” said Joseph Bobak, a local PA professor of criminology and forensic science.