Is the the administration fixing to do away with Gitmo? Specifically - the detention of creepy terrorist combatants?
The Pentagon's plan outlining the long-stalled effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, expected in the coming week, includes details suggesting that the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado is one suitable site to send detainees whom officials believe should never be released, administration officials said.
The plan represents a last-gasp effort by the Obama administration to convince staunch opponents in Congress that dangerous detainees who can't be transferred safely to other countries should be housed in a U.S.-based prison.
According to administration officials, the plan makes no recommendations on which of seven U.S. sites is preferred and provides no rankings. But it lists the prison sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas that a Pentagon assessment team reviewed in recent months and mentions advantages and disadvantages for the facilities. Those elements can include the facilities' locations, costs for renovations and construction, the ability to house troops and hold military commission hearings, and health care facilities.
The Centennial facility has advantages that could outweigh the disadvantages there, according to officials, but no details were available and no conclusions have been reached. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Any decision to select a U.S. facility would require congressional approval — something U.S. lawmakers say is unlikely. At the same time, dangerous prisoners are not new to Colorado. The Supermax in Florence, Colorado, which has been dubbed "Alcatraz of the Rockies," already holds convicted terrorists, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the conspirators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Pentagon plan also lays out the broader effort to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo, through transfers to other countries. The center now holds 112 detainees, and 53 are eligible for transfer. The rest are either facing trial by military commission or the government has determined that they are too dangerous to release but are not facing charges.
In order to approve a transfer, Defense Secretary Ash Carter must conclude that the detainees will not return to terrorism or the battlefield upon release and that there is a host country willing to take them and guarantee they will secure them.
The facilities reviewed by the assessment team were the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility at Leavenworth, Kansas; the Consolidated Naval Brig, Charleston, South Carolina; the Federal Correctional Complex, which includes the medium, maximum and supermax facilities in Florence, Colorado; and the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City, Colorado, also known as the Centennial Correctional Facility.