Charleston has been getting a lot of ink over the last week regarding the potential use of the local navy brig as a post-Gitmo location. As we reported in November, legislators from all the potential locations are doing whatever they can to keep Guantanamo prisoners out of their back yards.
Time Magazine’s description of the Charleston Navy Brig seems like it was written right out of Congressman Henry Brown’s office.
A medium-security prison, the brig can hold up to 288 inmates — and has already been used to detain several terrorism suspects, including Jose Padilla and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marril. The facility is within walking distance of the Port of Charleston and within two miles of civilian residences.
As my neighbor can tell you, just because her house is “walking distance” from my house does not mean that I can get into her house whenever I want. And “within two miles of civilian residences?” Really, is that where the imagination goes? Cooking up these strange scenarios where a suspected terrorist just walks off of a fortified Navy brig and then decides to terrorize a few locals?
A reader at Andrew Sullivan’s blog gave his assessment of Charleston:
Nevermind that the Charleston airport abuts the Charleston Air Force base (home of Military airlift command) and could be secured fairly quickly. In order for a detainee to make it from the military brig to the airport, he would have to cross swampland unprepared. The area surrounding the Charleston area is cypress swamp (that goes for miles around the city) full of gators, wild hogs and poisonous snakes and the residential areas are full of people armed to the teeth (with a hair trigger, a state rep got into some hot water for getting drunk and shooting at some power line workers he thought were thieves, he wasn’t charged). Keeping them there might be a good idea. They’ve kept Padilla and others at that Charleston brig for years with no complaint.
The New York Times suggests that Charleston could end up sharing detainees with some of the other installations on the list.