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December 16th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Good idea to move Gitmo detainees to Illinois prison?

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The Thomson Correctional Facility in Thompson, Illinois. President Obama has announced that the prison will be home to roughly 100 prisoners currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Obama administration is coming under fire for its decision to move some Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois maximum-security prison.

The plan is for the federal government to buy the Thomson Correctional Center - 150 miles west of Chicago. The Defense Department would then run the part of the prison housing what's expected to be fewer than 100 Gitmo detainees. There are about 215 prisoners currently being held at the controversial facility in Cuba.

Administration officials say the detainees going to Illinois would be those facing trial in U.S. courts or by military commission.

Illinois' governor says this move could bring 2,000 jobs and $1 billion to the local community - a big help to a state with an 11-percent unemployment rate.

But critics say it could wind up being another place where detainees are held indefinitely without trial. Republicans suggest this shows the White House has forgotten about the 9/11 terror attacks; and that they're bringing terrorists into the country under the guise of a "jobs program."

The ACLU is blasting the move as well, calling the Illinois prison "Gitmo North." They say closing Guantanamo is only a symbolic gesture if "we continue its lawless policies onshore."

Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea to move Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois prison?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • prisons
November 2nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

If swine flu vaccine shortage, should Gitmo detainees get it?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay will soon be offered the swine flu vaccine. While millions of Americans can't get their hands on this stuff - the 200 plus detainees at Gitmo will have the option of being vaccinated against H1N1.

 

A guard stands his position at Camp V on the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Pentagon says it's because people held in detention facilities are at higher risk for the pandemic. The soldiers at Gitmo will be offered the shots before detainees and others on the base. Similar plans are reportedly under way to vaccinate inmates in federal prisons.

You could make a pretty good argument that people should be outraged by this. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak is calling on the Pentagon to reconsider its decision, saying detainees shouldn't get preferential treatment.

Meanwhile people in this country are waiting in line for hours to get themselves and their children vaccinated. The CDC had hoped to have 40 million doses of the swine flu vaccine available by the end of October - but manufacturing delays forced them to revise that number down to 28 million doses. Meantime the virus is spreading across the country - particularly hitting children, teens and pregnant women. Another 19 youngsters died in the last week.

A couple weeks ago - I mentioned how one of the largest pediatrician's offices in Manhattan couldn't say when or if the swine flu vaccine would be available for a co-worker's toddler. Well - still nothing. There's such a limited supply that they're only offering it for a few select kids with underlying conditions. But Gitmo detainees can get it.

Here’s my question to you: If there is a shortage of the swine flu vaccine, should terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay get it before millions of Americans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay
October 21st, 2009
04:31 PM ET

Transfer Gitmo detainees to Michigan maximum security prison?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

One of the first things Barack Obama did as president was promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by January 2010. With three months to go, here's a suggestion: The city council of Standish, Michigan has voted unanimously for a resolution that would move forward with the idea of transferring the Gitmo detainees to Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.

U.S. troopers are pictured inside an exercise yard at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base.

The state prison is scheduled to be shut down at the end of this month due to budget cuts; and officials are worried what the closure and lost jobs could do to the local economy.

The 19-year-old prison can hold up to 600 inmates. It's surrounded by 16-foot fences that are topped with razor wire and is monitored by five gun towers that overlook the interior and provide perimeter security.

This is a large maximum-security prison in very good condition and far from a major city. Should be perfect. Standish officials hope the move could bring as many as 600 new military and civilian jobs. And they sure could use those jobs in Michigan these days.

The state's governor and both U.S. senators are open to the idea as long as security concerns are addressed. Local officials say they expect to hear from the federal government in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile - as the January deadline ticks closer... the commander of Gitmo says he could clear all 200-plus prisoners with just 10 days notice from the White House.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. transfer Gitmo detainees to a Michigan maximum security prison?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay
May 22nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Is housing Gitmo detainees in U.S. prisons a problem for you?

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File photo of the super maximum security federal prison in Colorado. The fortress-like super-prison is dubbed “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” and houses several terror convicts. “Supermax” is tightly controlled, technologically advanced, and designed to be impossible to escape. (PHOTO CREDIT: BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama says some terror suspects from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will be sent to U.S. prisons.

Despite opposition from Congress, the president is moving forward with his plan to close Gitmo by next January. He insists that he won't authorize freeing any detainees who would endanger the American people, but says some of these suspects will be tried in U.S. courts and held in super-maximum security U.S. prisons. The president says other detainees could be tried by military commissions and sent to other countries.

Congress has dealt President Obama a big blow by blocking funds to close Gitmo until he comes up with a detailed plan on what to do with the 240 detainees held there. Majority Whip Senator Dick Durbin is one of the few who voted against blocking the 80 million dollars. He says the U.S. can safely house these terror suspects just like we are already housing 348 convicted terrorists in U.S. prisons.

Durbin says Guantanamo has become a symbol and an organizing tool for terrorists; and it's not helping us win friends in the war on terror. He points out that we can't exactly ask our allies to take in these detainees when we're not willing to do the same.

Nonetheless Republicans continue to argue that the president's plan could endanger Americans. Former Vice President Dick Cheney says that President Obama's reversal of Bush-era detainee policies is "recklessness cloaked in righteousness" that will make the U.S. less safe.

Here’s my question to you: Do you have a problem with housing Gitmo detainees in U.S. prisons?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • prisons
May 14th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Release alleged detainee abuse photos?

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The president has seen the photos and said they're not particularly sensational compared to images from Abu Ghraib. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama says he doesn't want to release alleged prison abuse photos because it could affect the safety of U.S. troops overseas and "inflame anti-American opinion."

And it wouldn't exactly be the best timing for the president himself, who is scheduled to soon go to Egypt and address the Muslim world.

Nonetheless, the decision is a reversal for the White House - which last month said it had no problem with the Pentagon releasing hundreds of pictures of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But after hearing concerns from military commanders, the president says releasing these images could have a "chilling effect" on further investigations of detainee abuses - without adding to the understanding of past abuses.

Mr. Obama, who has seen the photos, says they're not "particularly sensational" when compared to the images from Abu Ghraib. And he repeated that any future abuse is unacceptable and won't be tolerated.

Needless to say, the decision isn't sitting too well with many of his liberal supporters. Some groups are accusing President Obama of violating his promises of openness and transparency; and of sounding just like the Bush administration when it comes to claims of secrecy.

Democrats were split - some backing the president's decision, while others think he should release the photos. Meanwhile top Republicans applauded President Obama.

It's unclear what will happen, but the matter could wind up in the Supreme Court, since two lower federal courts have ordered the pictures be released.

Here’s my question to you: Should the alleged detainee abuse photos be released?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay
January 22nd, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Banning Enhanced Interrogation: Does it invite U.S. enemies?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama issued three executive orders today that signal a sharp departure from the Bush Administration. One of them bans torture. It ends the CIA practice of so-called enhanced interrogations and requires the Army field manual be followed for terror interrogations.

Leg shackles sit on the floor at Camp 6 detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush administration and intelligence agencies under Bush's command said the tactics were the only way to get information from suspects being held captive in the war on terrorism.

The techniques include forceful grabbing and slapping, forced standing for more than 40 hours while shackled and handcuffed, holding naked prisoners in a 50 degree cell while splashing them with cold water, and waterboarding which simulates drowning.

At one point the former CIA director and former attorney general both testified to lawmakers about the value of the practices.

Human rights organizations, of course, said the U.S. was out of line and said they were violating international laws.

It's been the subject of much debate since coming into practice in 2002 and now President Obama has put a stop to it.

Here’s my question to you: Does forbidding so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques send an invitation to enemies of the United States?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • US Military
January 14th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Guantanamo Bay: What should happen to the inmates?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Pentagon says 61 former detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay have resumed what they call terrorist activities since their release.

A guard stands his position at Camp V on the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President-elect Obama says he'll close the prison as soon as his first week in office. He admits there are issues to work out if he does so, primarily the threat that the suspects still in custody there pose to the safety of the American people. There are about 250 of them including 2 of the alleged conspirators of the 9/11 attacks. They can't simply be released.

Perhaps the Pentagon is trying to emphasize that very point with the information they released. But it lacks details like what actions the detainees have taken since their release, where they are now and why they were released in the first place. Human rights advocates are skeptical of the report.

President-elect Obama's haste in closing the prison is an attempt to make a clean break from the Bush Administration's war on terror. Yesterday, when asked about Obama's plans to close Guantanamo, President Bush told CNN's Larry King that signing the paper is one thing but actually doing it is more involved. President Bush said he wants the base closed too, but it's a complex matter.

Here’s my question to you: If President-elect Obama closes the Guantanamo Bay prison, what should be done with the inmates there?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • US Military