Colorado prison under review for Gitmo terror suspects | AspenTimes.com

Colorado prison under review for Gitmo terror suspects

Dan Elliott
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The federal Supermax prison in Colorado is under consideration to house terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay, but a spokesman for Gov. Bill Ritter says military prisons in three other states are more likely contenders.

President Barack Obama has ordered the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closed within a year. A task force will study where the estimated 245 detainees should be sent.

One of the sites under consideration is Supermax, located in Florence about 90 miles south of Denver. Inmates already at Supermax include Zacarias Moussaoui, a Sept. 11 conspirator; Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack; and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb.

Ritter wouldn’t oppose transferring the Guantanamo Bay detainees to Supermax because it was built for just that type of high-risk inmate, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said Friday.

“If Supermax is chosen, there’s no reason to take a ‘not in my backyard’ approach,” Dreyer said.

But Dreyer said based on media reports, Ritter believes it’s more likely that the Guantanamo Bay inmates who aren’t sent to other countries would be transferred to a military prison.

He said Ritter has had no contact from the Obama administration about the possibility of a transfer to Supermax.

U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, R-Colo., denounced the idea.

Lamborn told KUSA-TV in Denver he worries about “liberal judges” freeing terror suspects on technicalities. He said he also worries about the terrorism suspects spreading their ideas to other inmates.

Coffman accused Ritter of offering an “open invitation” to keep Guantanamo prisoners in Colorado.

State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, whose district includes Supermax, said a military prison would offer better security. Supermax would need more staff and perhaps even a new detention center to house the Guantanamo prisoners, she said.

State Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, called the idea “extremely dangerous.”

Supermax, formally called Administrative Maximum, was built in 1995 for the nation’s most dangerous inmates. It can hold 490 prisoners.

Its 7-by-12-foot cells are soundproofed and designed so inmates can’t make eye contact with each other. Beds are concrete platforms topped with mattresses. Inmates are allowed outside of their cells for an hour a day.

Guards shot and killed two Supermax inmates and up to 30 other prisoners were injured when a fight broke out in the recreation yard in April. Authorities said up to 200 inmates brawled with rocks, metal, plastic or wood after white supremacist inmates targeted minorities on Hitler’s birthday.

Democratic congressmen visiting state lawmakers in Denver on Friday defended the possibility of holding terrorists at Supermax, saying that if it’s necessary, Colorado should step up to allow the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

“You need all possible solutions on the table,” said Rep. Jared Polis. “We shouldn’t criticize anyone for thinking outside the box.”

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The federal Supermax prison in Colorado is under consideration to house terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay, but a spokesman for Gov. Bill Ritter says military prisons in three other states are more likely contenders.

President Barack Obama has ordered the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closed within a year. A task force will study where the estimated 245 detainees should be sent.

One of the sites under consideration is Supermax, located in Florence about 90 miles south of Denver. Inmates already at Supermax include Zacarias Moussaoui, a Sept. 11 conspirator; Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack; and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb.

Ritter wouldn’t oppose transferring the Guantanamo Bay detainees to Supermax because it was built for just that type of high-risk inmate, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said Friday.

“If Supermax is chosen, there’s no reason to take a ‘not in my backyard’ approach,” Dreyer said.

But Dreyer said based on media reports, Ritter believes it’s more likely that the Guantanamo Bay inmates who aren’t sent to other countries would be transferred to a military prison.

He said Ritter has had no contact from the Obama administration about the possibility of a transfer to Supermax.

U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, R-Colo., denounced the idea.

Lamborn told KUSA-TV in Denver he worries about “liberal judges” freeing terror suspects on technicalities. He said he also worries about the terrorism suspects spreading their ideas to other inmates.

Coffman accused Ritter of offering an “open invitation” to keep Guantanamo prisoners in Colorado.

State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, whose district includes Supermax, said a military prison would offer better security. Supermax would need more staff and perhaps even a new detention center to house the Guantanamo prisoners, she said.

State Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, called the idea “extremely dangerous.”

Supermax, formally called Administrative Maximum, was built in 1995 for the nation’s most dangerous inmates. It can hold 490 prisoners.

Its 7-by-12-foot cells are soundproofed and designed so inmates can’t make eye contact with each other. Beds are concrete platforms topped with mattresses. Inmates are allowed outside of their cells for an hour a day.

Guards shot and killed two Supermax inmates and up to 30 other prisoners were injured when a fight broke out in the recreation yard in April. Authorities said up to 200 inmates brawled with rocks, metal, plastic or wood after white supremacist inmates targeted minorities on Hitler’s birthday.

Democratic congressmen visiting state lawmakers in Denver on Friday defended the possibility of holding terrorists at Supermax, saying that if it’s necessary, Colorado should step up to allow the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

“You need all possible solutions on the table,” said Rep. Jared Polis. “We shouldn’t criticize anyone for thinking outside the box.”


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