Where Should The Detainees Go?

by Patrick Appel
Geraghty has also responded to my post:

Appel writes, "I don't see why American prisons are incapable of handing Gitmo detainees – they house domestic terrorists already."

The options discussed so far are right next to a nuclear power plant in Southern California, right next to the facility for educational and training programs for foreign military students at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas*, and right in the middle of northern Charleston, South Carolina, three miles or so from an airport.

If a detainee were to escape Guantanamo Bay, he would have the option of running to Cubans or sharks, and getting roughly the same warm welcome from both. A detainee who escapes from any of the U.S. sites is within quick reach of terror targets, potential hostages, means of escape, etc.

Chris is right to say, in the case of Ft. Leavenworth, that everyone should wait until the Pentagon has made its final assessment. But to address Geraghty's point more generally: what about Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings? He is currently serving a life sentence without parole at a Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Is he any less dangerous than the men we have at Guantanamo? I've researched prisons in the past; the most secure ones are comparable to what I know of Guantanamo.

A reader wrote earlier today that "if we bring these men into the justice system and treat them as the common criminals they are, we reduce their standing in the eyes of their peers, in the eyes of the international community -- and in the eyes of America." That is exactly right. Geraghty instead seems to think that Guantanamo detainees have superhuman abilities. He writes:

...not all dangerous men are the same. It's hard to picture militia members, the Crips, Bloods, or what have you doing something as extreme as, say, crashing a plane into the prison to faciliate [sic] an escape and/or provide martyrdom to their brethren.

For those who say, "Oh, these detainees will never escape, it would be maximum security," it happened from the prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Another breakout in an Afghan prison freed 400 captured Taliban. In Yemen, captured al-Qaeda broke out, possibly with help from the inside. We've seen captured al-Qaeda escape from prisons in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And Morocco. An al-Qaeda plotter escaped from a Pakistani prison, and other attempts to break them out have been foiled.

It is one thing for terrorists to escape from prisons in the Middle East where security might be lax and where a significant number of al-Qaeda members and sympathizers live. But when was the last time terrorists broke out of prisons in France, England, Germany, or any other developed country? Of course extra precautions have to be taken, but suspected terrorists can be secured the same as any gang member. Geraghty needs to cut down on the 24.

He also offers this comparison:

Appel writes, "And how housing detainees in maximum security prisons impacts the American citizens residing nearby is beyond me." You would think one might be familiar with escapes of violent and in some cases, death-row criminals from high or maximum-security facilities in New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas (more than once), Virginia, Iowa, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania . . .

There are currently over two million prisoners in the United States. Last I checked, there are around 340 detainees at Guantanamo and only a few of those are high value detainees. Saying that these detainees might escape because a handful of the two million other prisoners the US holds have escaped is false equivalence to say the least.