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Gitmo on the I-5? GAO report looks at where to house Guantanamo detainees

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Nov. 30, 2012 at 11:45 am with No Comments »
November 30, 2012 12:04 pm

I can’t say this any better than Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room:

“Think it’s too dangerous to house the 166 suspected terrorists locked up in Guantanamo Bay within the continental United States? A powerful senator asked a congressional research office to run the numbers. It found that there are no fewer than 104 places inside the U.S. to safely lock them up — provided they make serious modifications.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s effort to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay generated this report from the Government Accountability Office, including an assessment of whether military jails or federal prisons could handle the inmates.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Northwest Regional Confinement Center made the list of Defense Department prisons that theoretically could house Guantanamo inmates.
“This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security,” Feinstein said in a Wednesday news release. “The GAO report makes clear that numerous prisons exist inside the United States—operated by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice—capable of holding the 166 detainees who remain at Guantanamo in an environment that meets the security requirements.”
The GAO reports notes several hurdles to bringing foreign detainees into U.S. military prisons, such as:

1) U.S. law prohibits confining members of the armed forces within “immediate association” of foreign nationals. Although Defense Department prisons have capacity for more inmates, restrictions on how they house different kinds of offenders might consume that extra space. For example, most of the inmates at the jail at Lewis-McChord are housed in barracks that would not easily accommodate a detainee picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

2) Defense officials told the GAO that bringing Guantanamo detainees inside military prisons could pose new security risks, such as someone seeking to attack the foreign detainees or their U.S. captors.

3) Guantanamo is set up for use as an intelligence facility as well as a prison. Bringing Guantanamo inmates to military prisons could require new investments to build up intelligence resources at the Army jails.

4) Service members confined at military prisons are expected to work. Relocating Guantanamo detainees to those jails could compel the military to relocate work programs.

Check out Carol Rosenberg’s story in the Miami Herald on how this report is being received on Capitol Hill.

As Rosenberg notes, the report ”includes no recommendation on the wisdom of dismantling the decade-old detention center run by 1,700 Pentagon employees and contractors but shows how transfers to U.S. soil could be accomplished using existing military or federal prisons.”


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