Plan to move Guantanamo detainees to Kansas gains support
A plan to drop Guantanamo detainees smack in the middle of Kansas is drawing broad support from Democrats and civil rights groups.
But not everyone is happy.
"Under the plan, several hundred foreign detainees could be transported from the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, a prison that has evoked worldwide outrage amid allegations of strong-arm interrogation tactics, to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks here, the Department of Defense's only maximum-security prison on U.S. soil," the registration-restricted Chicago Tribune reports.
"While many of the detainees have yet to be formally charged, those who could be moved to the military prison, in the center of a small base just outside Kansas City, stand accused of crimes ranging from helping plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to working to establish Al Qaeda networks around the world," the paper adds.
Local Republican Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), whose district sits adjacent to the prison, worries detainees could escape.
"The prison holds some of the world's most dangerous terrorists from around the globe," Graves told the Tribune. "They have threatened Americans and in some instances they have killed Americans. Having terrorists held so close to Americans would pose a significant risk if they were to escape or if the prison were to become a target for other terrorists."
A civil rights lawyer who defended detainees said moving the prison to Kansas won't substantially change their conditions.
"Their daily life wouldn't change," New York attorney Joshua Colangelo-Bryan remarked. "They would still be held in absolute isolation. The question is if their legal rights would change. So far, the government has argued that the people in Guantanamo have not a single right in a single court, so simply changing the place they are held without changing their legal opportunities won't lead to much difference in their worlds."
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which defense lawyers will argue detainees should have access to the federal court system. They are currently classed as "enemy combatants," a terminology the Bush Administration has applied to keep their cases from US courts, where those held would be granted more rights under US law.
Many of the detainees have been released without charges, and those who've stood before military tribunals have faced hearsay evidence.
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