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Gardner, GOP colleagues urge Trump to keep Cuban prison open

Author: Mike McKibbin - February 15, 2017 - Updated: February 15, 2017

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In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within the Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and 10 of his GOP Senate colleagues, recently sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to take steps to help keep the facility open rather than follow the Obama administration's plan to transfer detainees to a handful of U.S. sites, including two in Colorado, and close the Cuban facility. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within the Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and 10 of his GOP Senate colleagues, recently sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to take steps to help keep the facility open and not follow the Obama administration’s plan to transfer detainees to a handful of possible U.S. sites, including two in Colorado, and close the Cuban facility. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, and 10 of his Republican colleagues, last week sent a letter to encourage President Donald Trump to assess the future operations and detention of terrorism-related detainees held at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba.

“Congress has continuously opposed and prohibited the closure of GTMO as well as the transfer of GTMO detainees to U.S. soil since 2010 in response to the previous administration’s attempt to fulfill a campaign promise,” the senators wrote on Feb. 9. “Despite the growing number of threats to our nation from terrorists around the globe, the Obama administration demonstrated a serious disregard for the safety of the American people and the will of Congress by dramatically reducing the number of detainees housed at GTMO to justify those remaining to be transferred to the U.S.”

Former President Barrack Obama pledged early in his first term of office to close the Guantanamo detention facility. Colorado has been identified as one of a handful of possible inmate transfer locations. Gardner and other Colorado officials have opposed the move.

One Colorado facility previously mentioned as a transfer prison for GTMO inmates is the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, another is the Colorado State Penitentiary II, also known as the Centennial Correctional Facility, in Canon City. About 30 convicted Islamic terrorists already are confined at the Florence facility. They include “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, both of whom tried unsuccessfully to detonate explosives concealed in their clothing while on U.S.-bound flights, as well as Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Trump has said instead of closing the Guantanamo facility, he wants to keep it open.

“We’re going to load it up with some bad dudes,” Trump said during a campaign speech, referring to terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida.

In the letter, the Senators shared with Trump a number of recommendations for the future of the GTMO facility. They included a request for an immediate hold on transferring detainees approved for release by the Periodic Review Board  and the suspension of the board itself — which was established in 2011 to assess and determine the transfer of detainees — along with a full and judicious review of the board’s role and responsibilities. They also requested the issue include military value analysis and recommendations of the nation’s most senior military leaders.

Other Senators who signed the letter along with Gardner include Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark., James Inhofe, R-Okla.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Mike McKibbin

Mike McKibbin

Mike McKibbin is a Denver and Washington political reporter for The Colorado Statesman. A long-time Colorado-based journalist, he has worked as an editor and bureau reporter and won numerous Colorado Press Association and Associated Press awards. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcKibbin7 and email mike@coloradostatesman.com.


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