News Columns & Blogs

Is relocating Gitmo prisoners that big of a concern?

gitmoflag8Kansas GOP lawmakers are helping lead efforts to bar Guantanamo Bay detainees from being relocated to the United States. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, offered an amendment last week to block the transfer of detainees. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., told Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a hearing this month, "Please not at Leavenworth. This is a hot topic in my state." Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., appears in a fearmongering video produced by the Senate Republicans, in which he says sternly, "Moving those terrorists to Kansas? Not. On. My. Watch." He also gave a floor speech in the Senate last week in which he threatened to keep the Senate tied up in knots "if someone gets the bright idea of moving these prisoners to Kansas."

There may be legitimate logistical or security concerns about having detainees at a particular facility, such as Fort Leavenworth. But as Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution observed, "Members of Congress are acting as if Gitmo detainees are some evil combination of Chuck Norris and Harry Houdini, likely to escape into the countryside and wreak havoc." Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post also noted how several terrorists are already in U.S. prisons, and the nearby communities are still intact. And the Chicago Tribune editorialized: "Here's our prediction: The Pentagon will eventually move these inmates to detention facilities here in the United States. Some folks will grouse. Then the grousers will go back to living their normal lives."