No Escape: Liotta Blogger Call
6:52 PM, Jun 26, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
There are a lot of rumors flying around about the fate of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Last week the AP reported that the Bush administration was "nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility and move its terror suspects to military prisons elsewhere."
Since then, the administration has denied that any such decision is in the offing, but international pressure and a Democratic Congress are threatening to force a decision on the status of some 400 enemy combatants being held there.
It would seem that the most important question, though, is whether the facility at Guantanamo offers some advantage that would justify its decidedly negative effect on America's image abroad (after looking over poll data, I would offer that most Americans are satisfied with the status quo on this issue), and the answer, according to Alan Liotta, principle director for the Pentagon's Office of Detainee Affairs, is 'yes'. Liotta spoke to a few bloggers on a conference call this morning arranged by the office of the secretary of defense.
The WWS asked why the administration can't just close Guantanamo and move these guys somewhere else, to which Liotta responded:
Of course, I wouldn't want the federal government to put the worst of the worst from the war on terror in my backyard. And Liotta says there's been "no real look" at where these prisoners might be housed if they were relocated to the U.S. Liotta used Alcatraz as an example of a U.S. prison that, while extremely isolated, could be easily observed by al Qaeda from the surrounding hills. But surely the military could construct a base in the middle of Alaska, for example, that would present al Qaeda with a similar challenge in terms of overcoming geography. To be blunt, I don't find this to be a terribly compelling argument for keeping Gitmo open--though neither is it unreasonable.
But Liotta didn't stop there. He also pointed out that detainees that are brought to the United States,
Robert Bluey asked if it really matters where we put these prisoners--whether "the detention operation would be conducted in a significantly different manner in a different location." Liotta said that wherever the prisoners were held, they would be held under the same basic framework: