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Home > Gitmo Terrorist / Prisoners to a Place Near You > From Gitmo To A Place Near YOU!: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

From Gitmo To A Place Near YOU!: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

August 25th, 2009

It appears that the “powers-to-be” cannot find countries (allies) who are willing to take the remainder of the terrorist/prisoners currently being held at the Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So, they, the “powers-to-be”, are looking at prisons here in the Continental United States (CONUS) where they can incarcerate these troublesome terrorist/prisoners. 

Politicians of all stripes have sounded off about the capabilities of American prisons to hold these “prisoners”, specifically prisons which are located in their electoral districts. I am not faulting them for trying to bring jobs and money into their electoral districts during these tough times. All Americans know that certain areas of this country are experiencing extremely hard times during the recession. Yet, as much as these (Prison) jobs will bring money into a community, there are very dangerous “downsides” to having these terrorist/prisoners in the United States in any locality.

I know that my stance on this issue might provoke some of you, but I hope that you understand I am making that stance because I care about you, who work in the field. If I did not care, I would sit back and not say anything.

There are numerous concerns that, in my opinion, “MUST” be addressed before any terrorist/prisoner is moved to the CONUS from Gitmo. I will only address the concerns that I believe are the most pressing in this article.

While America’s Maximum Prisons are the best in the world, they were meant to incarcerate criminals, not terrorists and all of the challenges associated with  terrorists/prisoners. First and foremost, I believe, they are extremely vulnerable to direct assault from without. I, personally, do not believe that there is a state prison or local jail that could repel a direct attack on its perimeter by a heavily armed, well trained, para-military team. There are several reasons for this particular vulnerability:

1. Lack of policies and procedures addressing how staff should should handle the following:

- What to do if the institution comes under attack
- Visiting
- Classification (seeing that they do not have any “criminal” charges, or  discharge dates, etc.)
- Mailroom protocols for receiving incoming mail to the terrorist/prisoners
- Staffing levels and training curricula

2. No specialized training on how to repel a direct assault on the institution:

- Lack of training in military tactics (Cover and Concealment, Escape and  Evasion, Cover Fire, Counter-Sniper, etc.)
- Lack of training and staff to deal with a coordinated, simultaneous, multi-targeted attack on an institution. (Main-Gate, Vehicle Sally-         Port, Visitor Reception Area)

3. Rules of Engagement / Use of Force issues are extremely complex and varied:

- They must be thoroughly thought out PRIOR to moving any terrorist/inmates
- It would be a shame if there was an attack on a correctional institution and afterwords correctional                   employees  found  themselves charged  with serious crimes because of the actions they took during the attack
- When can deadly force be used

4. Insufficient weaponry, perimeter protection, and outside patrols:

- Terrorists could have explosives, automatic weapons, light and heavy weapons, armor piercing ammunition propelled grenades  RPG’s
- There is the possibility of suicide bombers and/or vehicle bombs

5. External environmental issues:
- Support cells, intelligence gathering cells,  intimidation of staff both at work and at home,etc.
- Like gang members, terrorist groups will have their supporters.  They will settle near the prison (s) where their colleagues are being held.

6. Now the $64,000.00 question: On what “criminal charges” will these
terrorist/prisoners be held????????????????????????????????

I do not have any doubt that American Prisons and correctional personnel can manage terrorist/prisoners, given all of the proper tools. The proper tools in my opinion span the gamut, from laws and policies, to weapons and training.

Jobs are important and I know that, but so is the well being of an entire community, its schools, nursing homes, churches and synagogues. There is the possibility that by bringing terrorist/prisoners into a community, the entire community could be at risk!

People and communities must THINK and weigh all of the short term and long term advantages and disadvantages of having terrorist/prisoners in their community.

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  1. Rob
    August 26th, 2009 at 08:01 | #1

    Hi Bill, thanks for your analysis of the security concerns and responses. This is pretty helpful. However, I remember this “old man” who once explained to me why he opposed the death penalty. He explained something along the following lines: “I am against the death penalty because nine out of ten times I looked into the eyes of the condemned and I was not sure if they were innocent or guilty and I was not sure that they had received a fair trial. Every once in a while I looked into the eyes of a man who was guilty as sin, and I thought that he should fry in hell, but this was once in a while.” Using this “old man’s” insights, and using the information that we know from the media and declassified documents, how many of the GITMO detainees have actually been charged, prosecuted or found to be guilty? How many of these detainees were picked up because of some “bad” intelligence that US soldiers received from Northern Alliance drug dealers (who became US allies against the Taliban) and who wanted to simply get rid of any opposition? How many of the detainees are simply suspects and not actual terrorists? Should we be afraid of Uighurs, a group of chinese Muslims funded by the CIA and detained for no other reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

    Anyway, I thought I would contribute to the debate.

    As always, R

  2. August 26th, 2009 at 08:42 | #2

    I think this article is very timely and give us much food for thought. We have not experienced this type of situation before and bringing these types of inmates in to a prison environment before adequate preparation with well thought out plans not only puts the community at risk but it makes the entire country vulnerable to additional terrorist attacks. This is an issue we would do well to move slowly and methodically on before we commit to it. Communities must likewise be made aware of the risks involved in housing terriorists at jails/prisons in their cities and towns. We would need to rely on intelligence from the community as well to stay safe. This article should generate a lot of thoughtful dialogue using caution and experience from others as our guide.

    Deloris/SC Dept of Corrections

  3. August 26th, 2009 at 12:25 | #3

    In the blog I ask the question - what charges will they be held on? The legal questions that must answered are numerous. When you have an opportunity take a minute and look at the article on the Los Zetas I have written on I should be available all afternoon - give me a call. As always I enjoy debating with you. Bill

  4. August 26th, 2009 at 12:30 | #4

    Thanks Dee: I think that communities are rushing into things that they really don’t have an understanding of the possible consequences. What happens when they get released? What charges are they going to be held on? Their incarceration in an American prison will be more restrictive than they are used to at Gitmo.

    Thank you for commenting. I value your insight.

  5. Kathy
    August 26th, 2009 at 18:01 | #5

    The new USDB at Ft.Leavenworth isn’t a good idea to house the Gitmo sickos. The mere location (heart of America) would be a strategic nightmare if something were to happen on a grander scale of attack.
    We have senior staff from Majors on up which attend the General Command Schools from all over the world there and it would be a target.
    I hope they re-think it. I have a perfect place for them to go,
    Johnston Island out in the Pacific. No one would care one bit if they
    went there! Just my opinion!

  6. August 26th, 2009 at 20:14 | #6

    You are 100% correct. Johnson Island is a great spot. They military could provide security and they the terrorist / Prisoners would not be a threat to CONUS. If they send them to Ft. Leavenworth and they get released they could stay in the area - wouldn’t that be a hoot.

    Thank for your comments you are and always have been insightful. Bill

  7. Kathy
    August 27th, 2009 at 10:47 | #7

    Bill, it just seems like a no brainer! Let’s think outside the box. I wasn’t kidding about having the gitmo gang sent to Johnson Island.
    It is way out there in the Pacific ocean and they have fresh water and food as there is a military force (small) all ready there.
    Maybe you could get this idea to whoever..hope it helps.
    You are right that America is just not set up for third world tactics.
    They have nothing and don’t care that they blow up things and they
    live in drama daily. Our drama is trying to get the kids to school on time and getting to the grocery store before the sale goes off on bananas.

  8. lawrence
    August 27th, 2009 at 12:16 | #8

    Very blog is very provoking. As a non-cj insider, I did not think of some of your points before.

  9. August 27th, 2009 at 18:05 | #9

    I am glad that my blog brought out some points that you had not considered. I have found that when you are dealing with complex issues like moving terrorist/prisoners (currently without ‘formal criminal charges’) from an island that is guarded by the military to downtown USA that is guarded by civilian officers - there are many issues that MUST be addressed. The long and short-term consequences and rewards have to be assessed OBJECTIVELY!


  10. August 27th, 2009 at 18:12 | #10

    Kathy: As I said before I believe that Johnson Island is a perfect place to house these people. What I feel that the “powers-to-be” don’t understand is that we are at war not chasing criminals around. Now they have the FBI doing the interrogation rather than the CIA and Military Intelligence. What will be next - having the Boy Scouts teach the terrorist/prisoners knot tying.

    Thanks for your comments, Bill

  11. Keith Nelson
    November 18th, 2009 at 11:31 | #11

    Been meaning to say Hi, but you know how it can be, something pressing always appears. For months I’ve been saying that the prison at Thompson IL would make a good local for the Dept. of Defense “Gitmo” Facility. Naturally, I didn’t have the clout to reach the right people, but apparently someone had the same idea. It is definately worth the effort to review. Currnetly I’m with the IL Dept of Human Services–Division of Mental Health as the Criminal Justice and Community Liaison with the Forensic Bureau.–Keith

  12. November 20th, 2009 at 13:53 | #12

    I just hope that those who will do the review take into account all of the “extra issues” that are associated with incarcerating terrorist/prisoners. Most especially those unanswered legal questions, increased perimeter security, and increase funds public safety funds for the town.
    Thanks for writing and reading the blog.
    Happy Thankgiving! Bill

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