Sheriffs to Obama: 'Dangerously naive' to bring detainees here

Sheriffs to Obama: 'Dangerously naive' to bring detainees here
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Opposition to a yet-to-be released plan to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility continues to mount, with most of the sheriffs in Colorado now joining together in urging President Obama against sending detainees to their state.

Two prisons in Colorado, one of which houses 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, were among the sites the Pentagon visited to assess for the potential to house the detainees.

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“We do not question the ability of Bureau of Prisons to detain these prisoners, but we recognize that there is a more significant public safety concern the danger posed by sympathizers who would mount an attack on these facilities or commit other acts of terror in our state to draw further attention to their causes,” the forty-one sheriffs wrote in a letter to the White House posted on Facebook by one of the sheriffs Tuesday.

The administration is set to release a plan this week on how to close the facility. It will reportedly include the pros and cons of housing detainees in specific prisons in the United States.

Right now, there are 112 detainees at the Guantánamo facility, with 53 eligible for transfer to other countries. The administration wants to bring the rest, who are not eligible for transfer or awaiting trial by military commission, to a facility in the United States.

The Pentagon has also visited sites in Kansas and South Carolina.

Since reports surfaced of the president’s intention to release a plan soon, lawmakers have been slamming the proposal. They stress that under the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress, it’s still illegal to transfer detainees to U.S. soil.

In their letter, the Colorado sheriffs focus on concerns over homegrown terrorists targeting the state.

“We believe it would be dangerously naïve not to recognize that a civilian prison with an untold number of enemy combatant inmates, located in our state, would provide a very tempting target for anyone wishing to either free these detainees or simply wishing to make a political statement,” they wrote.

They also worry the detainees will have access to federal courts and need to be transported from a prison in one jurisdiction to a court in another, taxing resources across the whole state.

“In Colorado, county sheriffs are responsible for enforcement of criminal law and keeping the peace throughout the state, not a state police agency,” they wrote. “When individual sheriff’s offices are overwhelmed, we draw from our fellow sheriffs for assistance through mutual aid requests. Therefore, this matter concerns and affects each and every sheriff across the state.”