- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

EXCLUSIVE:

The Pentagon is looking at several military bases in the U.S. as possible sites to hold terrorist suspects now at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including Camp Pendleton in San Diego and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican whose state hosts Fort Leavenworth, told The Washington Times that an internal Pentagon study named Fort Leavenworth among other locations.

Fort Leavenworth is the site of a military training program for foreign military officers, and Mr. Brownback said he feared the presence of Guantanamo prisoners would destroy the program.

“You are going to kill our international training program. A lot of Islamic countries come through Leavenworth. We had students from 90 different countries there,” he said.

Mr. Brownback said the Pentagon study group was tasked with finding a place that is available to move detainees as soon as the incoming administration of Barack Obama announces its plans.

Mr. Obama has pledged to close the detention facility at Guantanamo, which has become an open sore for the U.S. in its relations with other nations, especially in the Islamic world.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell declined to comment, as did officials from the Obama transition team.

A Pentagon official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution, warned that there are “so many more questions than answers at this point.”

“The devil is going to be in the details,” the official said.

Mr. Brownback on Monday invited Mr. Obama to tour the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, with the intention of dissuading Mr. Obama from sending any of the Guantanamo detainees there.

“I would be honored to show him firsthand why Fort Leavenworth is not an acceptable facility to house enemy combatants and he will find that once you see the base up close, it’s hard to show why terror suspects should be housed in Kansas,” he said.

House Armed Services Committee spokeswoman Lara Battles said there have been growing concerns in Congress over bringing 274 prisoners now being held at Guantanamo.

Newly elected Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, California Republican, whose district includes the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton, said the prospect of sending detainees there was unacceptable.

Mr. Hunter, son of former Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, sent a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates detailing his opposition.

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