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January 23, 2009

The Most Secure Prison in America
Posted by The Editors

(This is Adam Blickstein. I posted under the wrong account)

Chris Bodenner over on Sullivan's blog has a good take down of the argument that we can't transfer some Guantanamo prisoners to Supermax 100 miles south of Denver or to Leavenworth in Kansas because they would pose a threat to the local population. First, this assumption is patently absurd because it presupposes that these prison facilities are porous, poorly run, and have some sort of revolving door that allow inmates head into town for a some shopping and a bite to eat. In fact they are the most tightly run facilities in the world. But anyways, let's suppose that the worst Guantanamo detainees were transferred to Supermax. Who would their prisonmates be? More than 40 already convicted terrorists, including the first World Trade Center Bomber Ramzi Yousef:

There are plenty of other real deals at Supermax -- they're the all-stars of infamy. There is unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bombers Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh, before McVeigh was executed, and Robert Hanssen, the FBI supervisor turned Soviet spy. Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph is also at ADX. So are the al Qaeda terrorists who bombed the U.S. embassies in Africa. Mob informant Sammy "The Bull" Gravano has also been at the facility.

Needless to say if it was such a bad idea to house Guantanamo detainees in Florence, then why do we already have the most dangerous inmates in America housed there? Scott Pelley had an insiders look at Supermax in 2007. And needless to say, I don't think the inmates there are going anywhere outside the 23 hours they spend in their 7x12 foot cell:


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Gitmo is a travesty, but a small one (a couple hundred prisoners) compared to the total number (tens of thousands) of political prisoners incarcerated by the US military and CIA in Iraq, Afghanistan, Diego Garcia and God knows where else. So the government will make a big deal of it as a distraction from the overall situation of widespread, wanton human rights violations in American Empire prisons throughout the world.


You're abolutely correct that the question of transfering GTMO detaines from Cuba to Supermax or another prison is ultimately a political one, not a logistical or security one. Besides the domestic terrorists you mentioned (including Terry Nichols, who was a co-conspirator of the worst attack on U.S. soil before9/11), there are several Al Qaeda membersbehind bars.

I wish I could say that the "Not In My Backyard" argument was exclusive to Republicans, but there are a lot of Democratic members of Congress who have bought into the rhetoric of the past 7 years that only "the worst of the worst" are housed at GTMO. It's too much for these members to choke down that crow and admit that these detainees are not ten feet tall Übermensch Bush administratio propaganda made them out to be.

As someone who has been involved in the process of negotiting the return of detainees, I can tell you this is just a question of "sending them home". Therefore, we adminisration needs to be prepared to move these folks from Cuba to CONUS.

Unfortunately, President Obama will have to decide how much political capital and goodwill he wants to spend with House and Senate Democrats. Unless he's willing to do it by Executive Order, negotiating with Congress over possible legislation ordering a transfer may prove futile.

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Preety cool post here.I would say In 2006, a federal arbitration judge agreed that the prison was short staffed and said that assaults and threats from inmates were increasing. The current warden met with 60 Minutes briefly and told us the staffing shortage is overblown by the union. But he wouldn't appear on camera. In fact, no one at the Federal Bureau of Prisons would sit down for an interview. Supermax remains the least known prison in America.

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