Colorado prison officials say they haven’t been asked to house Gitmo detainees
November 16, 2009
DENVER (AP) – Colorado officials have not been contacted by the federal government about housing Guantanamo Bay detainees at federal prisons in the state, despite public comments that a facility in Florence is under consideration.
Federal officials were visiting an empty state prison Monday in the northwestern Illinois community of Thomson that Illinois is considering selling to the federal government. In advance of that visit, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said a federal prison in Florence, Colo., and another facility in Montana were also under consideration.
Colorado officials said they haven’t been contacted by the federal government regarding housing Guantanamo prisoners in the state.
Days after President Barack Obama’s announced the closure of the Cuba-based U.S. Naval Detention Center, the high-security Supermax was mentioned as a possible site to house Guantanamo detainees. At that time, Colorado’s Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, called Supermax “well-suited” to house terror suspects from Guantanamo.
“It has the worst of the worst already there,” Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said Monday. “But from our perspective, it’s a non-issue. Illinois appears to be the leading candidate.”
Inmates already at Supermax include Zacarias Moussaoui; Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb, and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
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Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said a task force studying the issue hasn’t made a final decision.
State Rep. Buffie McFayden, D-Pueblo West, whose district includes Supermax along with three other federal prisons and nine state prisons, said Quinn’s comments make it appear the “conversation is long from over” on where to house Guantanamo detainees.
“My biggest concern is that (Supermax) in Florence has no room,” McFayden said Monday in a phone interview. “You just can’t move that kind of detainee around the country. We’re limited on space.”
McFayden said she would like the state to meet with nearby residents of the prisons before the state makes a decision about housing Guantanamo detainees in Colorado.