You may recall that when President Hope was elected last November, one of his central pledges was the closing of the legally dubious Guantanamo Bay. However, such an action would obviously require moving the scores of prisoners already there — who face the spurious consequences of an unprecedented upheaval of due process requirements — to some other secure location. Surprise: one of the main places being considered is right here in the metro area, in good ol’ Leavenworth. Makes sense, right? There’s already a major prison there, and it’s surrounded by a military base. Kind of screams security, doesn’t it? Yeah. But you know who doesn’t agree? Why, it’s professionally pious man sometime senator Sam Brownback, who gathered with other indignantly self-serving politicians yesterday to create a Coalition of the Idiotic.
“We don’t want them here,” Brownback said. “They should be treated with dignity and humanely, but it shouldn’t it be here.”
Brownback said the transfer “will not change the world’s opinion of us one iota.”
He and others called the plan a “patently bad idea.”
Whoa! When Sammy unleashes the adverbs, you know he’s serious. Further opposition came from other local officials:
Leavenworth Mayor Shay Baker said she wasn’t worried about the detainees escaping from prison. But she had strong concerns about those who are sympathetic to the prisoners causing problems in the city. She also issued a personal invitation to President Obama to come and see what problems the transfer would create.
“Leavenworth is not the appropriate place for these detainees,” Baker said.
Well. Let’s think about this for a second. We can dismiss the possibility of escape outright, as Baker notes. These people will be watched more closely than we can even imagine — we’re talking Face/Off prison scene. Now, how about this fear of protests? Minor at best. True, it does give a U.S. venue to the legions of hippies who can’t make it to Cuba to lodge their opinions, but isn’t there an economic benefit here? We’d see sharp increases in sales of patchouli, tie-dyed shirts, and Phish bootlegs.
The “anywhere else just not here” argument proffered by Brownback and the other Congressional stooges is specious, and offers a typically American reading of a significant problem. The inmates at Guantanamo deserve a day before a court or tribunal (just think of how we’d react if another nation held American citizens without charges, evidence, or the chance to defend themselves), and the fairest option is a hearing before the government that imprisons them — on that government’s soil. To say that bringing these prisoners to Leavenworth is risky, either to national security, local safety, or municipal economies, is disingenuous and ignores reality to a stunning — or perhaps depressingly believable — degree.