Pentagon officials are in Colorado this week to scope out potential sites to house prisoners at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, the Associated Press reported Monday.
A team of officials will evaluate the state penitentiary in Canon City and the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, which has been dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” according to the AP. Pentagon spokesman Navy Commander Gary Ross called the visits “informational.” The Pentagon previously looked at the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.
The scouting is part of the Obama administration’s plan to close the military prison in Cuba, which houses detainees captured in the war on terrorism. It’s an attempt to answer the big question surrounding the potential closure of Guantanamo: Where? Where should the prisoners—half of whom are no longer considered a security threat and have been cleared for release—go?
President Obama has vowed to shut down the facility since he was first elected; he issued an executive order calling for the prison to be closed within a year during his first month in office. That deadline came and went, and the White House’s proposed road to shutting down the prison has been rocky since. In December 2009, Obama signed a presidential memorandum ordering then-Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to acquire an Illinois state prison as a replacement for Guantanamo. In May 2010, Congress blocked funding for that prison, and banned the use of federal funds for the transfer of prisoners to American soil. In January 2013, the State Department closed the office responsible for handling the closure of Guantanamo. Polling shows most Americans say the U.S. shouldn’t close the detention center.