The Obama administration is looking at creating a courtroom-within-a-prison complex in the U.S. to house suspected terrorists, combining military and civilian detention facilities at a single maximum-security prison.
Several senior U.S. officials said the administration is eyeing a soon-to-be-shuttered state maximum security prison in Michigan and the 134-year-old military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as possible locations for a heavily guarded site to hold the 229 suspected Al Qaeda, Taliban and foreign fighters now jailed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.The officials outlined the plans as the latest effort to comply with President Barack Obama's order to close the prison camp by Jan. 22, 2010,
(note a White House spokes person said that no final decision has been made)
First, if this is the final plan, the president will have two Congress people, four Senators, two State Senators, several mayors, and dozens of city council members, not to mention thousands of voters that will vociferously object to the idea that terrorists will be housed any where near their homes and the homes of their constituents. Some folks are all right with having terrorists moved to the States, but almost no one is all right with moving them anywhere near where they themselves live. As such, whoever's "backyard" they are moved to are likely to object in a very vocal way.
Second, once you move these folks to the U.S. a lawyer can and WILL argue that they now have the full protection of the Constitution. If they are moved to the Federal prison system, which is what the Michigan prison is, a lawyer can and WILL argue that they are part of the criminal court system.
If they are part of the criminal court system, they have the rights of a criminal. That means they can refuse to speak without lawyer. That means that evidence would fall under criminal standards. It also means they have the right to face their accuser. So, if evidence was gathered without a warrant, it can't be introduced. That means that any terrorist that flipped would have to speak in open court where the defendants would see and word would get back to terrorists overseas.
That's not what the Obama administration wants to do. He wants to create some sort of a new court system that would act outside of the criminal system. That's much easier to do when the terrorists are overseas. That's one reason that Bush kept them in Cuba. Can you imagine the Constitutional challenges that will follow once the president puts terrorists on American soil but also creates a whole new judicial system just for them. Some the president doesn't even want to try but to hold indefinitely. Can you imagine the legal challenges that will come when the president moves a terrorist on U.S. soil but refuses to even give him a trial?
What if they're acquitted? Presumably, they could potentially be released into the community surrounding the prisons. After all, their home country most likely will 1) not want them or 2) will want them but to torture them. Either way, sending them home will be no easy task. So, we could face the prospect of a handful of the worst terrorists roaming the streets of Kansas and Michigan.
Finally, what are the logistics for housing? Leavenworth is where we house our worst military offenders. It's not as though we can put the terrorists into the general population. So, they will have to be isolated. That means that they will have one hour of sunlight a day. It will also means massive increases in security. Now, if human rights are the reason to move these prisoners from GITMO, how will it look if we then put them in a cell for 23 of 24 hours each and every day? Furthermore, how much will it cost to add all the security necessary for them not to escape and for fellow prisoners not to beat on them? It would, of course, be a P.R. nightmare if they were beaten up by an American in prison, not to mention a recruiting tool.
The president will have to figure a satisfactory answer to all these concerns if he is to move forward with this proposal. Of course, in reality, the president should have thought about all this before he signed the executive order. Instead, he has to figure it all out as he goes.