Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Senator: Detainee transfer bad idea

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., discusses issues Friday with local residents at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., discusses issues Friday with local residents at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth.

December 10, 2008

It’s a matter of legality and safety when it comes to U.S. Senator Sam Brownback’s opposition to the transfer of enemy combatants now being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Fort Leavenworth.

In a press conference Thursday, Brownback spoke about several reasons why he opposes the suggestion of transferring the prisoners to the military base. Starting out his argument, Brownback stated simply that the idea would be illegal according to federal law.

“Plain and simply, placing detainees in the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth with military prisoners would violate federal law,” Brownback said.

The Department of Defense Directive states, “No member of the armed forces may be placed in confinement in immediate association with enemy prisoners or other foreign nationals not members of the armed forces.”

The suggested location of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners would be at Fort Leavenworth’s Disciplinary Barracks. Brownback said because of the barracks “campus style construction,” the building “would not support the requirement to separate detainees from inmates.”

Another of Brownback’s concerns focused on the fact that Fort Leavenworth’s facilities were not designed to hold the type of prisoners that are currently being held in Guantanamo Bay.

With “inadequate security” for detainees surrounding the parameter of Fort Leavenworth and a river and railroad passing through the base, Brownback said that Fort Leavenworth was not the right fit for the prisoners. He also said that the disciplinary barracks were not up to a standard to provide the necessary security.

“This is a medium security facility and you need a maximum-plus security facility,” he said. “You have a huge security problem here.”

Following Brownback’s press conference, the senator introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the use of federal funds to transfers/ detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth.

“We should build a facility located and designed with the detainee population in mind,” Brownback said at the press conference, adding that he does have a location in mind but would not disclose that detail.

Joining Brownback at the press conference to also show her opposition to the suggested transfer was Congresswoman-elect Lynn Jenkins.

Jenkins said that she thought the area surrounding the fort is too vulnerable to safety issues. She said the type of detainees that would be placed there would not only make the fort a target but the surrounding communities as well.

With that fear in mind, Jenkins said she encouraged other members of Congress to visit Fort Leavenworth and see for themselves the security issues that includes safety of the schools and military families who live on base.

“As a representative of the people of Leavenworth, any step to make Leavenworth the Guantanamo of the Midwest is the wrong direction,” she said.

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