The Miramar Canard

by Chris Bodenner

Regarding my last post, I want to circle back to this confused paragraph by Ms. Cooper:

Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) pointed out to NewMajority that a similar facility to Pendleton in Mirimar [sic], CA, held illegal detainees which turned into an absolute disaster. A riot broke out and the facility had to be locked down.

In my brief googling I could not find an article with that description. However, an invaluable Dish reader did: an LA Times piece from 1996. Here's the relevant chunk:

Even as firefighters were dousing hot spots and soot-covered inmates were gasping for air, the political sniping had begun over the torching and melee at the privately run jail for illegal immigrants at Miramar Naval Air Station. U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego) was on radio talk shows blasting Atty. Gen. Janet Reno and U.S. Atty. Alan Bersin, calling the incident a riot, which he said he had predicted when the Clinton administration persuaded the Navy to house illegal immigrants at Miramar. [...] Brian P. Bilbray, Ron Packard and Duncan Hunter--also issued similar partisan blasts within hours of the Friday melee.

One detail in particular pops out at me: the riot occurred at a "privately run jail" - not the brig itself. So, if I'm reading that right, Bilbray conflates 1) a small riot of illegal immigrants - in which no guards were attacked, no one tried to escape, and only three inmates were seriously injured - at a privately run jail, and 2) the incarceration of terrorist detainees at a military run prison, which would be fortified with Supermax-style security.

This is a perfect example of the skittish, disingenuous arguments permeating this whole transfer debate. And reporters like Ms. Cooper don't seem to question them.

By the way, Miramar is one of two consolidated brigs run by the Navy, the other located in Charleston, SC. And who's been kept at the Charleston Brig? Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber," as well as Yasser Hamdi and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, two other "enemy combatants" (Al-Marri is still there). But, to my knowledge, there has never been a security incident at Charleston. Nor has there been any at the Florence federal facility - a virtual cornucopia of terrorism. And in many ways, the Florence Supermax is much more dangerous than Gitmo, since the former actually contains convicted terrorists, rather than an uncertain mix of terrorists, bad motherfuckers, and outright innocents.