Archive for Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Officials oppose Gitmo transfer

February 4, 2009

The fight to keep Guantanamo Bay detainees out of Fort Leavenworth continues.

On Monday, state senators in Topeka signed a resolution stating their opposition to moving the detainees to the fort, while Kansas Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, along with Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, argued against the move in the nation’s capital.

Third district Sen. Tom Holland was among the 38 state senators who signed the resolution.

“The Fort Leavenworth facility and the community are really in no position to house those prisoners,” Holland said Tuesday. “In my mind they are extremely dangerous and they bring a high risk to the area. Our communities can’t afford to house those types of prisoners.”

Officials from the county, including Heather Morgan, county administrator, Lisa Weakley, Leavenworth mayor, and Ken Bernard, Lansing mayor, traveled to Topeka to offer their arguments.

Morgan echoed the senator’s statements, saying the county opposes the transfer. She said if the detainees were to come to the county, EMS and the Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t be ready to deal with the situation.

“We’re not fully equipped to deal with a terrorist-type event or prisoners of this security risk,” Morgan said Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that members of Congress were “engaged in a furious game of hot potato over who will inherit the prisoners.”

The AP reports that military officials told Congress that possible U.S. sites for Guantanamo prisoners included Fort Leavenworth, and the Naval Consolidated Brig near Charleston, S.C. along with Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Colorado's Supermax prison, which has already held unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

Recently, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also expressed views on bringing the prisoners to the state with a letter she wrote to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

In the letter, the governor implored her “fellow Kansan” not to choose Fort Leavenworth.

Among her reasons were the lack of proper facilities to house the detainees and care for them medically, the fort’s location next to a river, a rail line and an airport, and the effect it would have on the Command and General Staff College, which educates domestic and international officers.

“Both the unique requirements associated with housing GTMO detainees and some physical limitations at Fort Leavenworth make Leavenworth an undesirable location for the detainees,” Sebelius wrote. “In addition, their presence would greatly disrupt the largely educational mission of the Army’s intellectual school house.”

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