- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

U.S. government authorities began what will be hotly contested discussions this week on where to send Guantanamo detainees who cannot be tried or transferred to another country, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday.

Mr. Gates told senators that he realizes that virtually every member of Congress will file legislation prohibiting the United States from sending the detainees to a facility in their own state.

He said the Justice Department is still trying to determine how many of the 241 detainees at the military prison in Cuba will not be taken by other countries or put on trial, and there is no decision yet on where the remainder will go. Mr. Gates said that total would likely be between 50 and 100.

Pressed to give senators a hint on locations under consideration, Mr. Gates demurred. He added that while no final decision has been made on the fate of the current detention facility, he believes it will be “mothballed” once all the detainees there have been removed.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat and Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, and others acknowledged that there will broad concerns about the containment of the detainees so that the American public is assured it will be protected.

“Please not at Leavenworth,” Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, urged Mr. Gates. Kansas is home to the Leavenworth base, which has U.S. Army prison facilities. “This is a hot topic in my state.”

Mr. Brownback said representatives of a number of other nations have told him that they would stop sending their officers to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth if officials decide to incarcerate Guantanamo detainees in the Army prison there.

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