U.S. military officials have finished assessing two Colorado prisons for their suitability to hold prisoners transferred from the Guantanamo naval station, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday.
A team of less than a dozen officials first went to Colorado nearly two weeks ago to review possible costs associated with keeping detainees at the “supermax” Federal Correctional Complex in Florence and the state penitentiary in Canon City, Davis said. Located roughly 100 miles south of Denver, the latter currently holds Al Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.
“The assessment team met with facility staff to discuss the existing facilities, engineering considerations, force protection, troop housing, security, transportation, information security, contracting and other operational issues,” Navy Cdr. Gary Ross said. Not only are Pentagon surveyors looking for a place “to securely and humanely hold detainees transferred from Guantanamo Bay,” but also for locations that could ”serve as military commission sites,” said Ross. The Colorado visit concluded on Oct. 15.
Officials are now compiling their recommendations in a report for Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whom officials say will prepare it for the White House. The White House intends to then send it on to Congress—whose members have already signaled their intent to deny President Barack Obama’s long-running efforts to close the Guantanamo prison. Previous Pentagon surveys at detention facilities in Kansas and South Carolina have met fierce resistance from state lawmakers.
Proposals to close the Guantanamo prison would transfer stateside some, but not all, of the 114 prisoners currently held there.
For more on just why closing the prison is so difficult, read Beyond Guantanamo, a special report by Politics Reporter Molly O’Toole.