Views On The Ground
by Chris Bodenner
As Patrick noted, Geraghty insists that Obama, in deciding his detainee policy, "ought to consider the objections of Americans in places like Kansas, California, and South Carolina as much as it considers the objections of the editorial boards of Le Monde, Der Spiegel and the Guardian."
How about the Leavenworth Times? After all, it's the paper most likely to reflect the views of Kansans most affected by a detainee transfer to Ft. Leavenworth. Let's take a look:
"What a bunch of SPINELESS GUTLESS so called 'Leaders' we have in this town. ... [M]ost of us who are former military in town are behind the [transfer], BECAUSE we know the capabilities of the USDB [prison] Staff to handle the situation."
"Incarcerating them in Gitmo without due process is one of the many reasons that the US is hated in the Middle East. The only way to change our image is to resolve those issues. We are a prison city, that's what we do."
"I'd be very proud of my city for actually playing a role in the war. [It's] not just in DC or NY. ... We should rename it the 'Global (minus Leavenworth) War on Terror.'"
And those aren't the exception; the overwhelming majority of reader comments support the transfer. And they weren't written by bloggers like Geraghty and me, but rather a retired Army sergeant, a federal retiree who helped build the Army prison, and a retired Navy vet, respectively. (I know because I contacted them for a magazine piece.) Another example is my father, a Vietnam vet who retired at the fort and still lives in Leavenworth. In fact, even excluding the fort, more than one-fifth of area residents have served in the military (double the national figure).
Servicemembers, by definition, risk a bit of their own safety to protect the higher principles of our democracy. So it's no surprise that many veterans feel it's their patriotic duty to help tackle the detainee problem (particularly since Ft. Leavenworth has the only maximum-security prison in the military, and the area -- home to four major prisons -- has dealt with some of the most dangerous inmates of the past century, such as the terrorist who rented the truck used in the first WTC attack.)
So while Geraghty suggests that Obama is ignoring local politicians, those politicians need to listen more closely to their own constituents. The local debate, at least in Leavenworth, is far more nuanced than NIMBY.