The new President, on his first full day in office, has announced a halt to the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. And according to the same New York Times story:
Later this week, the new administration is expected to issue an executive order that is to start what could be a long process of closing the detention camp, where about 245 detainees remain.
What is yet unsaid, and what will likely be a key point of discussion over the next year, is just where those 245 detainees will be moved. Discussions on NPR focused on that issue, with commentators explaining that due to the highly dangerous nature of the detainees, no community in the mainland USA will want to house the Gitmo detainees in their local prisons.
Which got me thinking: remember Yucca Mountain? That’s the super-secure repository in the Nevada mountains, which according to most objective scientific reports is the safest location in which nuclear waste can be stored for the long term. And yet despite the extreme cost and safety measures taken to build the Yucca Mountain facility, Nevada’s elected officials have managed for years to block its opening.
Does anyone think that the NIMBY sentiments will be any less intense when the time comes to relocate Gitmo detainees to mainland prisons? Or that public officials in targeted areas will fight with any less intensity than Nevada’s have done.
Like it or not, Guantanamo has one big plus going for it: it’s not in anybody’s back yard except Fidel Castro’s.
My prediction is that we see some modifications made to the existing Guantanamo facilities, or the detainees relocated to some other overseas facility, before we see them set foot in any American’s back yard.