It appears that the “powers-to-be” cannot find countries (allies) who are willing to take the remainder of the terrorist/prisoners currently being held at the Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So, they, the “powers-to-be”, are looking at prisons here in the Continental United States (CONUS) where they can incarcerate these troublesome terrorist/prisoners.
Politicians of all stripes have sounded off about the capabilities of American prisons to hold these “prisoners”, specifically prisons which are located in their electoral districts. I am not faulting them for trying to bring jobs and money into their electoral districts during these tough times. All Americans know that certain areas of this country are experiencing extemely hard times during the recession. Yet, as much as these (Prison) jobs will bring money into a community, there are very dangerous “downsides” to having these terrorist/prisoners in the United States in any locality.
I know that my stance on this issue might provoke some of you, but I hope that you understand I am making that stance because I care about you, who work in the field. If I did not care, I would sit back and not say anything.
There are numerous concerns that, in my opinion, “MUST” be addressed before any terrorist/prisoner is moved to the CONUS from Gitmo. I will only address the concerns that I believe are the most pressing in this article.
While America’s Maximum Prisons are the best in the world, they were meant to incarcerate criminals, not terrorists and all of the challenges associated with terrorists/prisoners. First and foremost, I believe, they are extremely vulnerable to direct assault from without. I, personally, do not believe that there is a state prison or local jail that could repel a direct attack on its perimeter by a heavily armed, well trained, para-military team. There are several reasons for this particular vulnerability:
- Lack of policies and procedures addressing how staff should should handle the following:
- What to do if the institution comes under attack
- Classification (seeing that they do not have any “criminal” charges, or discharge dates, etc.)
- Mailroom protocols for receiving incoming mail to the terrorist/prisoners
- Staffing levels and training curricula
- No specialized training on how to repel a direct assault on the institution:
- Lack of training in military tactics (Cover and Concealment, Escape and Evasion, Cover Fire, Counter-Sniper, etc.)
- Lack of training and staff to deal with a coordinated, simultaneous, multi-targeted attack on an institution. (Main-Gate, Vehicle Sally-Port, Visitor Reception Area)
- Rules of Engagement / Use of Force issues are extremely complex and varied:
- They must be thoroughly thought out PRIOR to moving any terrorist/inmates
- It would be a shame if there was an attack on a correctional institution and afterwords correctional employees found themselves charged with serious crimes because of the actions they took during the attack
- When can deadly force be used
- Insufficient weaponry, perimeter protection, and outside patrols:
- Terrorists could have explosives, automatic weapons, light and heavy weapons, armor piercing ammunition propelled grenades RPG’s
- There is the possibility of suicide bombers and/or vehicle bombs
- External environmental issues:
- Support cells, intelligence gathering cells, intimidation of staff both at work and at home,etc.
- Like gang members, terrorist groups will have their supporters. They will settle near the prison (s) where their colleagues are being held.
- Now the $64,000.00 question: On what “criminal charges” will these
terrorist/prisoners be held????????????????????????????????
I do not have any doubt that American Prisons and correctional personnel can manage terrorist/prisoners, given all of the proper tools. The proper tools in my opinion span the gamut, from laws and policies, to weapons and training.
Jobs are important and I know that, but so is the well being of an entire community, its schools, nursing homes, churches and synagogues. There is the possibility that by bringing terrorist/prisoners into a community, the entire community could be at risk!
People and communities must THINK and weigh all of the short term and long term advantages and disadvantages of having terrorist/prisoners in their community.
Mt. Sturgeon is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division.