Fort Leavenworth Sen. Sam Brownback said Monday that Washington policymakers are beginning to slow down and think through the decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and move the detainees.
Brownback said that as policymakers learn more about Fort Leavenworth and two other military sites being considered as possible locations for the prisoners, they’re less likely to want to move some of the 240 suspected terrorists to Kansas.
“We’re not out of the woods by any means. We have to keep up the fight,” Brownback said.
The senator was the featured speaker at a flag ceremony at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College, which educates U.S. and international officers. Officers from 46 nations presented their flags as the next 10-month course got under way.
“We’re going to keep the central mission educational and not a detention facility for foreign-born terrorists,” Brownback told the officers.
President Barack Obama has signed an executive order closing Guantanamo within a year. He didn’t specify where or how many of the suspects — some held since 2001 — would come to the mainland United States.
Some estimates are that fewer than 100 would need to be housed in federal or military locations. One potential site is Fort Leavenworth’s U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, the military’s only maximum-security prison.
Kansas officials have cited the lack of adequate security, a railroad passing through the post, a large family population and lack of sufficient health care as reasons not to move the suspected terrorists to Fort Leavenworth.
Brownback said after the ceremony that his office has been told by representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that they would pull their officers from Fort Leavenworth program should detainees be transferred to post.
“This place has all the known problems, but on top of it, I think you really will gut the primary mission of the place if you move the detainees here, particularly our relationship with Muslim countries,” said Brownback, who has introduced legislation to keep the detainees out of Kansas.