The Pentagon is reportedly scouting locations in the United States to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Officials are now looking at the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and the Charleston Navy brig in South Carolina as possible spots for Gitmo detainees shipped from Cuba to the United States. The AP report punctuates years of Pentagon squeamishness about carrying out President Barack Obama’s plans to close Gitmo.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told AP that surveyors are assessing costs involved in additional construction needed in order to house any incoming detainees. Some of those costs include space for military trials, ramped up force protection, housing costs, and more. While the Pentagon is first examining military facilities, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is looking into civilian prisons, as well.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently stated that he isn’t confident about the prospects of Gitmo closure, but this new move may signal renewed cooperation between the White House and the Pentagon — cooperation which has been in short supply as far as Gitmo is concerned.
But there are mixed signals. Just last week, a defense official stated that Carter seemed reticent to sign off on the transfer of 52 detainees cleared for release. Carter reportedly does not want to be held responsible for recidivism. The other 64 detainees are still far too dangerous to even consider releasing.
Chuck Hagel, the previous defense secretary, resigned his post partly over what he viewed as excessive pressure from the White House to sign off on detainee transfers.
Aside from the Department of Defense, Congress has been a major thorn in the administration’s side over the last couple of years, as Obama has pushed to fulfill his campaign promise to shutter the facility located in Cuba. The House and Senate versions of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act both prohibit transferring detainees to the United States. The Senate version, pioneered by GOP Sen. John McCain, contains an exception.
If the White House submits a closure plan to Congress, and Congress subsequently approves the plan, detainees may very well end up in the United States.
In an op-ed, retired Navy commander J.D. Gordon recently stated that detainees, once transferred to the U.S., may end up on the street.
“[I]f other countries won’t take them, they could just walk out of jail. Detainees don’t have to escape from Supermax if judges let them out,” Gordon argued.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.