Members of Congress from the San Diego area are telling the Pentagon they don't want detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison moved to Camp Pendleton.
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office — and perhaps his first day — to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to two presidential transition team advisers. It's unlikely the detention facility at the Navy base in Cuba will be closed anytime soon. In an interview last weekend, Obama said it would be "a challenge" to close it even within the first 100 days of his administration. Read the article here.
Lawmakers have moved to block transfer of the detainees to at least two potential and frequently discussed military facilities: an Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. A Marine Corps prison at Camp Pendleton in Southern California also is under consideration, a Pentagon official said.
Congressmen Duncan D. Hunter, Darrell Issa (ICE'-ah) and Brian Bilbray took their position in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday.
The lawmakers say sending terror suspects to Pendleton could distract Marines and raise safety concerns.
"Camp Pendleton is a place where we train our Marines and Sailors for combat," Congressman Hunter wrote in his letter. "It is not a detention facility, nor should it be transformed into one. Any attempt to accommodate detainees at Camp Pendleton would create an unnecessary distraction for the Marine Corps and interfere with its primary mission, which is to combat terrorism.
"Redirecting these detainees to Camp Pendleton would also present a serious threat to surrounding military installations and resources, as well as the community's civilian population. San Diego is not the place to transfer these terror suspects and experiment with new detention procedures. Suspected terrorists should continue being held at Guantanamo Bay, where they can be safely contained," he said.
Hunter, a Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, concluded, "In closing Guantanamo Bay, the incoming Administration would be making a serious mistake and I urge it to reconsider."