Import of Gitmo Detainees: Assuaging the Wrong Fear
From President Obama’s speech yesterday:
Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders — namely, highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety.
As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following face: Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Republican Lindsey Graham said, the idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.
Isn’t this a red herring? The threat to the continued detention of such persons is not inadequate physical arrangements. It is that bringing them onto the soil of the United States and into the direct purview of our court system greatly increases the chance that such detainees will leave the prison not by breaking out but by a turn of the key ordered by an American court.
This is not in any way to advocate for the indefinite detention of these detainees but rather, to identify yet another instance of flawed reasoning; in this case, one that will permit casual observers to say, “Oh, yeah, our prisons are secure; go ahead and bring them here”. In fact, prisons are comprised of both walls and authority. A breach of either enables a prisoner to go free; if of the latter, freedom tends not to be temporary.