US to review state prisons for Gitmo detainees

Posted at 12:25 AM, Oct 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-03 02:25:39-04

A Defense Department team will be visiting a state and a federal prison in Colorado to assess their possible use to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the Obama administration's plan to close that detention center, Senior U.S. officials say. 

Officials say that within the next two weeks the team will visit the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City and a medium-security federal prison near Supermax in Florence.

"The governor and the Pentagon want to have a full understanding of the costs, risk and impacts for Colorado," Kathy Green, communications director for Gov. John Hickenlooper's office said in a statement obtained by 7NEWS.

Other government officials voiced their concerns.

“I remain opposed to any plan to bring Guantanamo terrorists to Colorado. I call on the Obama Administration to immediately halt any consideration of this irresponsible idea," said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, in a statement.

State Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Arvada, feels the suspected terrorists should not be housed on U.S. soil, regardless of the location.

"Whether in Colorado or anywhere else [the detainees shouldn't be housed on U.S. soil] so they can be afforded all the protections of due process that an American is given under the constitution,” Coffman said. 

Coffman also said he will be reviewing the law to try and halt the move. “As a Marine Corp combat veteran I know that these hardened terrorists are irregular enemy combatants and that's why they ought to be housed in Guantanamo until this conflict is over."

The Republican National Committee said in response that housing Gitmo detainees will create "strong, bipartisan opposition."

Coloradans have made it clear they do not want the world’s terrorists housed in their backyard. Unfortunately both Hillary Clinton and President Obama are pursuing a misguided approach that endangers our national security and faces strong bipartisan opposition.” – Fred Brown, RNC spokesman 

The office of Sen. Michael Bennet, said that the Department of Defense "has no authority to transfer these prisoners or make such modifications, and they have made no case that it makes sense to do so."

"It is outrageous and unacceptable for President Obama to waste time and taxpayer dollars on a dangerous fantasy that will go nowhere. The people of Colorado do not want the world’s worst terrorists housed in our own backyard and we will not stand for this. I will do everything in my power to resist these unlawful terrorist transfers from taking place,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-CO. 

The Pentagon team has also surveyed the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The reviews assess construction costs and other changes needed to house the detainees and conduct military commission trials.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the visits publicly.

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