Try detainees, close Gitmo

When the U.S. shuts down the prison camp in Guantanamo it must move the 229 remaining detainees to another prison somewhere in the U.S. They are our prisoners. It is our responsibility to house them, release them or turn them over to authorities in other countries.
It also is our responsibility to deal with them according to U.S. and international law.
To achieve these goals the administration is proposing creation of a courtroom-within-a-prison to eliminate the need to ship prisoners from prison to courtroom, which might entail moving them from state to state, creating difficult security problems.
Officials are looking at the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth and a maximum security prison in Standish, Mich., as possible locations to house the prisoners.
Moving detainees to Ft. Leavenworth was loudly opposed Monday morning by Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents the Second District, which includes Leavenworth.
Most of the prisoners at Guantanamo have been held since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2003. Few have been charged with a crime. The evidence against many is based on hearsay and may not hold up in a trial that follows U.S. law. While it has been common practice to label the detainees “terrorists,” it has become increasingly clear that prisoners of war would be a more accurate description.
Sen. Brownback and Rep. Jenkins contend that remodeling the military prison at the fort, housing the prisoners there and beginning court proceedings would endanger Kansans.
To make the argument stick they would have to prove that our military is incapable of transporting the detainees from Cuba to Kansas and holding them in a maximum security prison without having them escape and terrorize the Leavenworth County countryside. Tough case to make. They were, after all, brought to Cuba from half way around the world without mishap. They have been held in Guantanamo in the middle of a country that considers the U.S. a mortal enemy without a single escape.
Why must we assume the military in Kansas can’t be as effective? When was the last escape from Leavenworth?

WHILE THIS discussion was continuing, it was announced in Washington that a number of the detainees had been referred to federal prosecutors for possible criminal trials in the nation’s capital, Virginia and New York City.
If that decision holds, the number who might be sent to Kansas or Michigan would diminish and, presumably, so would opposition to accepting them.
The debate has turned political, as most discussions about what the nation should do about its problems seem to do in Washington these days. It is worth remembering, however, that President George W. Bush in the last year of his presidency also came out in favor of closing Guantanamo because it had become a symbol for our nation’s cavalier attitude toward the Geneva Convention and was seen abroad — and by many Americans — as a contradiction of our own fundamental laws and human rights principles.
Guantanamo should be closed for those very good reasons and also because it is in Cuba where there are no U.S. courts.
Bring them to Kansas, to Michigan or to the east coast courts which have had experience trying terrorists. Or try a combination of these solutions. But close Guantanamo and take definitive action with the detainees with deliberate speed rather than continuing to hold them without filing charges against them. Treat them, in other words, as we would have our prisoners of war treated: humanely and with due process of law.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.