Where Art Thou Gitmo?

quilandinkPresident Obama announced that we are going to close down Gitmo, our prison for foreign nationals captured in the War on Terror over the past few years. The prison, by the way, is not that cluster of steel cages you keep seeing in stock news footage on TV. It is now a moderm facility familiar to anyone doing hard time at, say, Pelican Bay in California.

Over the past eight years the place has housed a floating population of between 200-500 inmates. A number have been handed back to the authorities in their home countries and some have been released. Over 60 of those paroled returned to the fight and were subsequently killed or recaptured on the battlefield. Others, who were sent home to be incarcerated, broke out of jail and are loose again. Perhaps they were just trying to get back to better conditions at Gitmo. There is no such thing as a hunger strike in a Yemeni prison.

Of the 250 or so prisoners still at Gitmo, most are there because no one else will take them. If we can’t send them home and can’t release them, what do we do with them? Since they are already in Cuba, we could just follow Che’s example and line them all up against a wall and shoot them. We are too civilized for that. We’ll spend another billion dollars building them another prison.

Allow me to offer some ideas as to where we might put the new facility.

Hawaii may not be Obama’s first choice, but why not? It’s an island chain in the middle of the Pacific and home to a Marine regiment, an Army division, and the Pacific fleet. Security wouldn’t seem to present a problem. My personal preference would be a nice warm spot overlooking the ocean at Kilauea, but I’m sure the citizens of Hawaii could direct us to an even better location.

There are a couple of excellent locations in San Francisco. Alcatraz is an island in the middle of the bay and actually was a prison years ago. All we’d have to do is dust it off, upgrade the basketball court, and bingo, it’s ready to go. If the repairs and environmental concerns (remember, this is California) are too much, we still have an immediate and close fall back option – the Presidio of San Francisco. Until a dozen years ago it was an active Army post with plenty of open land and available infrastructure. It would be perfect. All Mr. Obama has to do is get the neighbors who live within a few blocks, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, and former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, to give their blessing. Maybe they could bring cookies and Kool-Aid to the unfortunate detainees on Sundays.

Finally, there is Yucca Mountain in Nevada. It’s in the middle of nowhere and we have already spent billions digging a huge cave network deep underground. It was originally constructed to house nuclear waste until Nevadans, who back in the day cheerfully watched nuclear bombs go off within sight of Vegas, decided that Yucca might spring a leak in a thousand years or so. This might be an easy solution, even to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who hails from the nearby town of Searchlight. Put the prisoners in Yucca and store our nuclear waste at Gitmo.

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