Pentagon Considering Prisons in Kansas, South Carolina for Guantanamo Bay Detainees

Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay / Wikimedia Commons

BY: Morgan Chalfant
August 17, 2015 10:55 am

The Department of Defense is considering the military prison in Kansas as well as the Navy Brig in South Carolina as places to potentially jail Guantanamo Bay detainees as President Obama continues his campaign to shutter the facility despite objection.

The Associated Press reported last week:

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a team was surveying the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on Friday and will do a similar assessment at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston later this month. Davis said the team will assess the costs associated with construction and other changes that would be needed in order to use the facility to house the detainees as well as conduct military commission trials for those accused of war crimes.

The prison at Fort Leavenworth has emerged as a new possible site for detainees after a draft Pentagon plan previously named Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois in addition to the Charleston Navy Brig as choice options in terms of cost and time needed to renovate the facilities and ensure maximum security.

The administration, however, has ruled Thomson out.

In order for Obama to fulfill his controversial goal of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials will need to determine countries to take remaining detainees and ensure that they will be sufficiently monitored so as not to threaten national security.

While 52 of the 116 detainees have been cleared for release, 64 have been labeled too dangerous. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has insisted that the Defense Department will not release prisoners until ensuring that all security measures are in place.

Kansas lawmakers immediately blasted the Pentagon for considering the facility at Fort Leavenworth.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) authored a letter to Carter emphasizing his objection “to the idea of moving these terrorists to the mainland, and more especially to Kansas. I will continue to be a vocal and staunch advocate against closing our current detainment facilities due to the high security risks and economic waste doing so would cost the American public.”
Roberts also insisted that the prison, positioned on the Missouri River, would “[provide] terrorists with the possibility of covert travel underwater and attempting access to the detention facility.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) also expressed vehement opposition to the idea.

“Terrorists should not be living down the road from Fort Leavenworth–home to thousands of Army soldiers and their families, as well as military personnel from across the globe who study at the Intellectual Center of the Army,” Moran declared.
In addition to the facilities in Kansas and South Carolina, Davis explained that the Pentagon also plans to visit other stateside prisons to determine their viability for containing the detainees.

Despite plenty of opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, Obama has continued to push to close the prison. White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted last month that the administration has reached the final stages of drafting the plan to close Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, retired Navy commander and former Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon has said that, if Obama’s plan succeeds in bringing inmates to the United States, “activist” judges could set those prisoners free on American streets.
Update, 11:35 A.M.: An earlier headline for this post was incorrect. Officials are considering a location in South Carolina, not North Carolina, for Guantanamo Bay detainees.