In a move that may suggest a real effort to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, the Pentagon are inspecting a number of military and federal prison sites on U.S. soil to assess whether they could be viable candidates for transferring the detainees from the infamous prison in Cuba.
Last week, Pentagon officials sent evaluation teams to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, the prison at the Army’s Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. Next week they’ll check out the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan, South Carolina. State officials in both Kansas and South Carolina have pushed back hard, saying they don’t want dangerous terrorists to be housed in their state.
Currently, there are 116 detainees at Guantanamo, 52 of whom have been cleared for transfer abroad or repatriation. The other 64, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, were ruled too dangerous for release.
Officials will be assessing things like how secure the facility currently is, the changes that would be needed to make it secure enough to house the type of detainees that would be transferred, protecting and housing the service members who work at the prison, and the engineering and financial needs of those upgrades.
Since becoming president, Barack Obama has repeatedly called for the detention camp at Guantanamo to be closed down and for the prisoners to be transferred elsewhere. Under current law, detainees from Guantanamo may not be transferred to U.S. soil under any circumstances. Opponents say that no mainland prison will be as secure as Gitmo for housing terrorists.
Is this finally the beginning of the end for Gitmo? Where do you think the best place would be for Gitmo detainees to be transferred? What are the legal and financial impediments?
Philip Ewing, senior defense correspondent for POLITICO
Jeffrey Addicott, Lt. Colonel (U.S. Army, ret.), Professor of Law at St. Mary's School of Law in San Antonio, where he is the director of the Center for Terrorism Law; Addicott is a 20 year JAG officer and was senior legal counsel to the Green Berets