Friday, January 23, 2009

With Guantanamo closing, where will the detainees go?

By Scott Canon and David Goldstein | McClatchy Newspapers
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — If not Guantanamo, then where?

Anything but a welcoming party is forming here.

When President Barack Obama signed an order Thursday forcing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center within a year, he put in sharp relief the possibility that some of the world's most potentially dangerous terror suspects could be hauled to Kansas.

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth is on a list of imperfect choices for holding nearly 200 men whose legal status is as murky as their backgrounds.

Obama's long-promised action only heightened chances that Leavenworth could be the new focus for a contentious debate over how to prosecute non-citizens for alleged actions overseas, and whether their legal limbo has a foreseeable end.

"We're a military community and people understand that we need to do what the commander-in-chief says," said Andrea Adkins, Leavenworth's economic development administrator. "But there is a security threat any place where these people are located."

Kansas politicians and local government officials have complained loudly about the possibility of America's most troublesome captives being brought to the Midwest. Opponents' arguments center on security - both that the military prison might not be equipped for such high-risk inmates, and that the base and the community might be targeted by terrorists.

"This is just not going to happen on our watch," said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Sen. Sam Brownback, another Kansas Republican, said he also has been told by officials from Muslim countries that they would no longer send officers to the Army Command and General Staff College if the detainees came to the Leavenworth Army base.

"We've already heard from students from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia that they will leave, or be pulled by their governments, if the detainees from Guantanamo are moved there," Brownback said. "It's where these relationships are built with foreign officers, particularly in the Islamic world. This really hurts us."

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1 comment:

coffee said...

it's a complicated issue, no doubt, but at least Obama seems to be on track to keep his word and restore some international credibility for the US in the long run