Don’t Bring The Gitmo Detainees To My Town!

by Venomous Kate

The California Yankee has a good piece up about where Obama will put the terrorists now that he’s closing Gitmo. Among the locations under consideration: the Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, the DoD’s only maximum security prison.

It just so happens that the DB is just a few miles from my house. I live in the town of Leavenworth. My husband works on Ft. Leavenworth’s installation. This is our home, and we don’t want to share it with detainees or those they’d draw here.

If you’ve never been to Leavenworth, it’s easy to imagine that the Disciplinary Barracks are behind massive walls, safely tucked away from polite society. A threat to no one. But that’s only if you haven’t been here. Those who’ve visited our town know better.

If you’ve actually driven on post — something which only requires showing the guards your driver’s license and proof of insurance — you know that, for all of its security, there’s no real separation between the DB and the community of Ft. Leavenworth.

Last year, for instance, I took a wrong turn en route to picking up my son at his summer day camp on post and almost wound up in the prison’s parking lot. It’s a scary building, as it should be, but until now it’s only been frightening for what it contains: the worst of the worst among the military.

With Gitmo closing, the DB just got more scary. Not because of what’s contained within it, but because filling it with terrorists and/or detainees brings an external threat: that, along with the military installation of Ft. Leavenworth, the sleepy little town surrounding it will itself become a target as well.

The enormity of that risk cannot be understated. The Command and General General Staff College (CGSC) located at Ft. Leavenworth is filled, at any given time, with 1,000+ U.S. and foreign military officers. The expansion of the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) adds to their number, as does the Battle Command Training Center.

In addition to military personnel, Ft. Leavenworth is home to thousands of families. Within jogging distance of the DB are three elementary schools and the high school that educate the children of personnel assigned to Ft. Leavenworth. In between are nestled the Commissary and P/X, the library, hospital, veterinary clinic, Post Office and chapel. Cars slowly drive along the streets on post all day. In other words, although it’s unlikely someone would escape from the DB, it’s even more unlikely they could escape unnoticed.

But it’s not escapees that are the big worry if Gitmo inmates are transferred to the DB on Ft. Leavenworth. It’s those who’d be interested in helping them escape, and the lengths to which they might be willing to go, particularly if such efforts would involve taking out a number of Americans.

The town of Leavenworth is separated from the Fort only by a patrolled chain link fence and manned through gates. To one side flows the Missouri river, a sluggish and wide expanse that draws campers to its banks along with bored fishermen. In the summer, the River Front Festival brings most of the town’s occupants to the shore for fireworks and festivities. And several times a year we’re down there sandbagging the thing to keep it within its bounds.

Crossing that river from the Missouri side brings drivers to Metropolitan Avenue, the main street passing Ft. Leavenworth. You can’t help noticing the post as you drive along Metropolitan, although the buffalo roaming in the field nearby seem rather incongruous. The rest of the town flows south from that street which is lined with gas stations, convenience stores and a rather popular steak house from which you can see the old DB’s guard tower.

In the small, 1950s-style roadside diner where I like to have breakfast on occasion, the subject has usurped Michael Vick as the topic of interest. In between cups of bitter coffee and plates of fried eggs with hashbrowns, Gitmo rules the day.

One man, whose house is across the street from Ft. Leavenworth, says he’d never be able to feel safe in his own home knowing that just across the way were the kind of folks responsible for 9/11. Yes, he says, he supposes they’re innocent until proven guilty. But — and he pauses here to take a swig of coffee for emphasis — is a belief in their innocence going to make it any less likely terrorists would try to liberate them?

A college student, amply decorated with what I’ll kindly refer to as “body art”, shakes his head. There’s no proof terrorists tried breaking out detainees from Gitmo, he argues. Around him, heads shake slowly and shoulders shrug. Is it really crazy to worry that housing detainees in the midst of a small Kansas town would make escape attempts more likely?

A voice clears. The conversation pauses. A grizzled old man whose winter work jumpsuit appears embedded with grease that’s older than the rest of us speaks up. He’s lived here all of his 73 years, he says. His parents moved here after his father retired because it’s a sane place for people interested in simple living. After his own military service he retired here, too, for the very same reason.

Like most senior citizens, he remembers a day when people didn’t lock their doors and windows. Those days may be gone, he says, but this is still a town where you can walk safely down the streets any time, day or night. It’s safe, he says, because our police force has kept pace with our population. Add a couple of hundred detainees — and any family members visiting to be near them — and that balance changes. And then what?

That, ultimately, is the question that haunts us all as we ponder an influx of what we’ve been told are the worst of the worst outside the military, these alleged terrorists: and then what?

Oh, sure, we’re all aware that the soldiers incarcerated within the DB are the military’s dregs but, horrifying though some may be, there is one comfort to be had: they’re still Americans. They’re criminals, to be sure, but they’ve not pledged the annihilation of our citizens, our way of life, our government.

This town is at the heart of the nation’s heartland. This is Americana at its finest. This is the kind of town that television and movies portray when they want to evoke feelings of patriotism and nostalgia. Whether it’s the flags lining every street on Memorial Day, or our Veteran’s Day parade in which everyone from the VFW to the Cub Scouts march, the carnival that happens every summer in Wal-Mart’s parking lot or the pancake breakfast with Santa every December down at City Hall, this is where Main Street USA really exists.

So know this, President Obama: if you put Gitmo detainees here, you aren’t just putting a target on the military installation that trains the majors of the combined services in leadership and then prepares their finest for battalion command at the School for Advanced Military Studies. You aren’t just making the Battle Command Training Cente and the post where the Center for Army Lessons Learned even more attractive to those who’d benefit most from wiping them out.

You put Gitmo detainees here amid in this sleepy little Kansas town which so perfectly represents everything America stands for, and you’re making a target of everyone who lives here. Oh, sure, the the Geneva Convention would call us non-combatants — innocents, even — but somehow, I don’t think terrorists and their pals give a hoot about such designations.

28 Comments to “Don’t Bring The Gitmo Detainees To My Town!”

  1. You can get on post just by showing your license & insurance? Wow. Are military IDs out? Do you still have a sticker on your car that is the extra magic bullet, or can anybody get on?

    Not trying to ignore the main point of the post, but just shocked that anybody casing the joint could show license & insurance and drive right in.

  2. Oh, come on. You know the bible tells us to visit those in prison. Don’t you want to do ur Christian duty?

  3. Christians have been known to do some fairly horrible things in the name of their Christian Duty, or have you never read the accounts of the Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem during the First Crusade?

    Not that I wouldn’t be in favor of some Old Testament justice on some of these goons (woops…the ship sank getting them here…our bad), but be careful what you wish for.

  4. What’s ur point?

  5. I’d have thought that was fairly self-evident.

  6. I’m not familiar with Ft. Leavenworth, but you can’t get on Barksdale AFB without a military ID for everyone in the vehicle unless you stop and fill out some paperwork, including the driver’s license and insurance.

    My experience has been that every base, every fort is just a little different. Stickers on the cars have gone by the wayside, afaik. Barksdale isn’t issuing them anymore. And that makes sense — it’s easy to steal a car!

    Ft. Huachuca let me in with my DL and an expired military ID stating that I was going to renew said expired item, after I showed them the POA from my husband.

    Ft. Jackson let my non-military daughter drive me to the ER showing her DL and my military ID.

    A part of me wants to say that a consistency should be shown among installations and another part of me says that keeping them wondering is a good thing.

  7. Welcome to the target world! What has always been discomforting to me is the conversation I was having with my sister (living at the time in Bristol UK). We first agreed that Flight 93 had been an intentional crash. Second we decided that Bush was probably headed for Barksdale or Offut. That we were right is a profound bashing of the security surrounding our President.

    And of the thinking of all his advisors.

    What were we? A wife of a retired AF ATC and an ex-Florida Highway patrolman and pilot?

    As long as I’ve lived in Shreveport, I’ve known that because of Barksdale we were a target. Nukes? check. Long range bombers? check. Fighters (A-10s)? check.

    However, those were much more dangerous in a cold war situation. This terrorist Jihad stuff is a lot more unpredictable and spreads the threat. The spreading dilutes it in some ways, but does not make it any less lethal.

    I do not want these prisoners anywhere on American soil, nor do I want them returned to their homelands to foment jihadism.

    Yes, you have guessed correctly. I want them dead. And, yeah that makes me a real right wing creep. I try to make up for it by loving homosexuals and people with odd piercings.

  8. That’s all it takes, although you’ll go through a different line and are subject to random car searching. A military ID and sticker are the magic bullet for the express lane.

  9. Bear with me… They have to go somewhere. Most, if not all, countries really do not want them and Gitmo is going to get shut down. Nobody wants them in a populated backyard. Why not have the US buy an “older” cruise ship and moor it in the waters of a remote area that’s reasonably near a military base? I’m thinking the Bering Sea side of the waters off of Adak, Alaska. It would be in US territory, the prospect of escaping into the Bering Sea would be a bit grim, the nearby NAS could monitor all approaches, and the cost of keeping the thing afloat and the prisoners comfy should be equal to or less than Gitmo. I know that it sounds a little “Escape From New York”ish, but…

  10. Why not use Alcatraz?

  11. Closed and dilapidated. I’m guessing the cost to bring it up to snuff would be prohibitive. Besides, nobody could smoke there because it is California…

  12. Well, the smoking issue is a biggie… but relocating the detainees is going to require massive funding, anyway. Even here at Ft. LV, they’d have to move the currently incarcerated soldiers elsewhere, because detainees and soldiers can’t be housed together. Then they’d have to add personnel.

    Also, since Ft. LV doesn’t have an hospital with an emergency room, they’d either need to add one (best solution) or come up with a damn-near impervious way to transport an ill or injured detainee through town to one of the local hospitals (which would then be a prime target for would-be liberators).

    Add in the cost of upping personnel on post, and then upping local law enforcement to secure the town, and you’re looking at comparable costs of fixing up Alcatraz.

    Besides which, no one said the detainees should be getting top-of-the-line accommodations.

  13. Wild, re the getting on post. Why do they even let nonmilitary personnel in there at all without some legit military reason to be there?

    Been a long time since my family was active duty air force. Things have changed.

  14. Alcatraz has been suggested. Pelosi said hell no, as I recall, and pointed out that it’s a park.

    I personally think that Alcatraz or another location like it makes the most sense – putting these people in middle town America is a bad idea for all of the reasons you’ve outlined, Kate. Gitmo was a great location simply because it was exclusively military territory – no extraneous issues to worry about. Who knows, maybe Alaska somewhere?

    I think the part of this that’s almost laughable is that closing Camp XRay isn’t going to solve a single thing. Gitmo became a “symbol” of American failures because of its controversial nature, but what’s getting lost in the crossfire is the single, inescapable point that it was the only reasonable solution to a complicated problem. Close the camp, and the problem remains.

  15. Anwyn, I’ve been to the National Guard air station portion of PDX several times. Armed F15’s, and all I needed to get in was a driver’s license.

  16. But, if the renovation didn’t disturb all the birds, it would be a fine smelly place to put them. The whole island smells like an outhouse.

  17. The simple answer is keep Gitmo open.

    We’re having this discussion because the Socialist Simpleton who became President ran his mouth on this issue during the campaign. He learned after the election that he obviously had not thought this through, but he issued the order to close the camp anyway. Saving face and appeasing his base is more important to him than the safety of Americans.

  18. You have some very repulsive commenters. I have to unsubcribe. ThXs for letting me read your stuff for awhile. Have a great life.

  19. I’m going to assume that was directed at me, since I’m the only one that has bothered responding to you.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  20. I hate it that you were more repulsive than I was. I’m going to try harder!

  21. Like I always say, you’d think people would know what they’re getting when they read the blog of a woman whose first name is VENOMOUS.

  22. Maybe I should change my name to RepulsiveWG? :)

  23. That should be your Rap name, too.

  24. And no my first name ain’t baby, it’s Venom.

  25. MISS Venom, if you’re nasty.

  26. word, yo, dawg.

    Ok, I’ve now exhausted my repertoire of wanksta.

  27. Oh, God….another ear worm.

  28. Let’s open a nice new DB section at Kwajalein. It is officially within US Territory; so, the lawyers can pose and strut, while the rest of America can worry about more important problems.

    Personally, I’d prefer McMurdo Station for the new DB or perhaps we can make duel use out of Yucca Mountain. There’s a lot of empty ‘cells’ there just waiting to fill up.