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The Obama administration,which has signalled its intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terror suspects within a year,is experiencing difficulties in finding a place to imprison detainees who may not be accepted by any country.
Topping the list for new home for the detainees,Newsweek says,is Fort Leavenworth,situated in Kansas,but Governor Kathleen Sebelius,an Obama pal,is making sure that the new detention centre is not located in her State.
“I’m happy to find a solution but would make strong argument that ‘this isn’t,'” she was quoted as saying by the magazine.
In a letter to Defence Secretary Robert Gates,she said putting terrorist suspects there would undermine the base and pose a danger to the community.
Leavenworth is one of at least three sites under examination by the Department of Defence as alternatives to Gitmo.
Newsweek says Pentagon survey teams have visited Leavenworth and Camp Pendleton in San Diego since Obama was elected President on November 4 last year. The US Naval brig in Charleston,South Carolina is also on the list.
In response,members of Congress representing the districts where the three facilities are located have each proposed NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) bills that would prevent the government from dumping Gitmo suspects on them,the report says.
“Not only is the brig within walking distance of sensitive military facilities … but it is less than two miles away from surrounding civilian suburban neighbourhoods,” Republican Henry Brown of South Carolina said in a statement.
Taking a stand,says the news magazine,was surely a tougher call for Sebelius,who was briefly touted as a possible Obama running mate during the campaign.
After the election,her name was mentioned in connection with a number of Cabinet positions. In her letter to Gates,Sebelius worried that absorbing the prisoners might have a “negative economic impact on the community.”
In the short run,though,it could also create jobs: the medium-security brig at Leavenworth would require expansion and reinforcement,and it’s likely that more policemen would need to be hired to patrol the area.
If the economy keeps tanking,inheriting Gitmo detainees could come with a silver lining,the magazine comments.