While President Obama works to deliver on his longtime promise to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba his Defense Secretary offers a jolt of reality; around half of the detainees—the world’s most dangerous terrorists—need to be locked up “indefinitely.”
So what are the commander-in-chief’s plans for the radical Islamic jihadists currently incarcerated in the top-security compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba? The all-star terrorist roster includes 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi as well as Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the Al-Qaeda terrorist charged with orchestrating the 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole. Where will the U.S. government take these terrorists if the president goes through with his plan, which started out as a campaign promise to restore America’s position as a global leader on human rights.
In all the years that Obama has talked of closing the Gitmo prison, he has never touched on what would happen to the terrorists held there. The president has tried emptying out the compound by releasing dozens of prisoners—many of them have rejoined terrorist causes—to foreign countries, but at least half of the remaining 116 are too dangerous to free.
Obama’s own Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, confirmed that recently, saying that “some of the people who are there at Guantanamo Bay have to be detained indefinitely, they’ve just got to be locked up.” This evidently applies to many of those who have been released over the years. For instance, an al Qaeda operative (Saudi Ibrahim al-Rubaysh) released from Gitmo appears on the U.S. government’s global terrorist list and Uncle Sam is offering a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts.
The administration has considered relocating the captives to military facilities in the U.S., including Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and the Navy Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. This has ignited outrage among officials in both states. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts was quick to say “not on my watch will any terrorists be placed in Kansas.” Roberts also co-authored a mainstream newspaper op-ed with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott vehemently rejecting the idea. “The notion that Kansas, South Carolina or any other state would be an ideal home for terrorist detainees is preposterous,” the piece reads. “Transferring these prisoners to the mainland puts the well-being of states in danger, posing security risks to the public and wasting taxpayer dollars. The detention facilities at Guantanamo are doing a fantastic job of holding these terrorists.”
The governors of both states—Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas—have also vowed to take any action in their power to stop the transfers, including suing the federal government. A South Carolina newspaper editorial points out that the state is already taking a hit for the team by serving as the “de facto permanent home” to high-level nuclear waste associated with the nation’s weapons programs. “Fearing South Carolina is again about to become the home that no other state wants to be has leaders rightly standing up against federal plans to transfer terrorist detainees from the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay near Cuba to military prisons in South Carolina and Kansas,” the editorial states. “This goes beyond the states’ collective call of duty as there is no agreement on a plan for what to do with the detainees in the long term.”
Judicial Watch has covered Guantanamo extensively and has repeatedly traveled there to monitor the U.S. military commission proceedings against the world’s most dangerous terrorists. JW has witnessed a deep commitment to justice by military and civilian lawyers defending the captives and has reported on many of the perks that the incarcerated terrorists receive from American taxpayers. For instance, they get laptops and computer lessons, “Islamically permissible” halal meals and better medical care than U.S. veterans. Last year the Obama administration let Gitmo inmates operate a “Business School Behind Bars” with an accused Al Qaeda financier as the self-appointed “dean of students.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was also permitted to dispatch propaganda from his Guantanamo jail cell (undoubtedly aiding and abetting more terrorism) and a fighter in Osama bin Laden’s 55 Arab Brigade was allowed to published a sob letter in an international media outlet describing the “humiliating and brutal treatments” he suffers at the U.S. military prison.