House Majority Doesn’t Trust Supermax Prison Guards

Sunday, October 04, 2009
Supermax Prison, Florence, CO

Having already denied funds to close down the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, House lawmakers on Thursday adopted an amendment that bans the transfer of detainees to maximum-security prisons in the United States. Republicans managed to pull 88 Democrats to their side on the vote which added the detainee provision to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2010 budget.


Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), the measure’s sponsor, argued the detainees don’t deserve legal protections under U.S. law and should face trial at the American naval base on Cuba. “They are not criminal defendants,” he told Reuters. “They are prisoners in a war.”


Currently, the “super-max” prison in Florence, Colorado, is holding more than 30 convicted terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef, who led the truck bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring in the September 11 terrorist attacks; Ahmed Ressam, who was part of the attacks planned for Los Angeles airport in 1999; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who conspired, among other plots, to kill President George W. Bush; Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; and Wadih el-Hage, who helped bomb the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in 1998. Also at Florence are Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols. No one has ever escaped from this prison.


The Obama administration wants to close down Guantánamo and relocate its more than 200 occupants elsewhere. About 80 detainees would be sent to other countries, with another 60 standing trial. The remaining detainees would remain behind bars indefinitely, because there is insufficient evidence to try them, but they are deemed too great a security risk to let go. This third group would have to relocate to U.S. prisons, unless the administration can come up with another overseas solution for detaining them.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

House Votes Against Stateside Transfer of Gitmo Detainees (Agence France-Presse)

U.S. House Votes to Block Guantanamo Transfer (by Andy Sullivan, Reuters)

Al-Qaeda Terrorists in U.S. Prisons? They’re Already Here (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



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