Colo. Governor Suggests Supermax for Gitmo Detainees

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has suggested that Supermax in Florence, Colorado would be appropriate for Guantanamo detainees.

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 today. "If Supermax is chosen, there's no reason to take a 'not in my backyard' approach," Dreyer said.

Not quite. Supermax is for "the worst of the worst" of convicted felons. None of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo has been convicted of a crime yet. [More...]

Supermax, also known as Alcatraz of the Rockies, is far too punitive for those suspected but not convicted of crimes.

There's also been major staffing problems at Supermax. The guards union has been furiousIt hasn't been immune to inmate murders. More on the problems here and here.

Also at Supermax: Jose Padilla, Ted Kaczinski, Ramzi Yousef, "Blind Shiekh" Omar Abdel-Rahman, Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard "shoe bomber" Reid, OKC conspirator Terry Nichols and others. Even "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was shipped there in 2007. Here's a list.

None went to Supermax before conviction in a federal court.

But, it just goes to show, those who say a terrorist won't be convicted in federal court don't know what they are talking about. Supermax holds many of them, as the list shows.

Journalists got their first tour of Supermax in 2007. CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen was one of them. From his report:

We saw cement desks and bed frames and stainless steel toilets and sinks. We saw cages—straight out of the circus—where inmates who are going along with the warden’s “program” are allowed to “recreate” outside for about 10 hours a week. We saw that the windows in the cells are only a few inches wide and all look inward toward the other windows of other cells. No one has a view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains which surround the facility in the southern portion of Colorado.

... It may be a high-tech, super-secure prison but it is still a prison, where men will live and die in 68-square-foot cells.

As Human Rights Watch said in their report, Locked Up Alone:Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo:

“Security measures don’t justify locking people in windowless cells 22 hours a day, for months and years on end, with almost no opportunity for human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation.”

The detainees who are not going to be charged with crime must be returned to their home countries or provided safe haven in another country. Those that the U.S. is going to prosecute can be housed in secure facilities, but the conditions at those facilities must be appropriate for a pre-trial detainee, not punitive like those for the nation's most serious convicted offenders. And that's not Supermax.

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    Which is it? (5.00 / 0) (#26)
    by WorkinJoe on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:53:15 PM EST
    Do we believe that our Constitution and justice system is the model for the world?  If so, why don't we insist that all people, citizens or not, deserve their day in court under the same system.  Two separate tiers of justice for us and "them" means we have no justice at all.  We lost our moral leadership under Bush because we created that second, lower tier of "justice," holding people without access to lawyers or even the charges against them, eliminating habeas corpus.

    If we want to lead the world, we must do it fairly and provide the rights we desire as citizens to all world citizens.

    How do you enforce this? (2.00 / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:04:32 PM EST
    If so, why don't we insist that all people, citizens or not, deserve their day in court under the same system

    Are you willing to serve in the armed forces to do this?

    If so, are you a member now?

    And if not, why not?


    Aren't the prisoners at Gitmo (none / 0) (#2)
    by caseyOR on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:23:23 AM EST
    military prisoners? Why wouldn't we place the ones we are going to bring to trial in military prisons and brigs in the U.S.? Is there a good reason not to do that?

    Probably yes (none / 0) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:29:52 AM EST
    I believe the Justice Department is taking over any trials now and following the law going forward.

    Aren't The Prisoners At Gitmo (none / 0) (#7)
    by jb1879 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:31:44 AM EST
    Yes there is at least one reason.  If they escape from Gitmo they it would be harder for them to go back to killing Americans.  If they are put in prisons here in the U.S. they will be back to doing this within minutes. If they are housed in the U.S. I hope it is at your back door and not mine.

    No. They are not military prisoners (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:01:45 AM EST
    If they were they would be POWs and we could hold them until the war is over per the Geneva Convention.

    I thought you didnt believe (none / 0) (#20)
    by jondee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:29:06 PM EST
    in the Geneva Convention.

    After all, parts of it are the result of "Old Europe" telling the good ole U.S of A (who protects them), what to to do.

    What we need to do is pull out of the U.N and shoot some ballisle missles at them collectivists.
    Smoke 'em outa their holes.


    Why do you write that? (2.00 / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:31:51 PM EST
    My comments have always been in conjunction with the terrorists NOT being qualified under the GC.

    I'm concerned about the cost (none / 0) (#4)
    by thereyougo on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:38:01 AM EST
    to the taxpayer. Is it cheaper anywhere else?

    granted the previous administration didn't understand or cared to follow international law and habeus corpus.

    Noticed how European countries are not opening up their doors to house the ones who have no evidence of crimes. It would be nice, but not happening.

    GITMO (none / 0) (#5)
    by jb1879 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:23:09 AM EST
    Wait and see.  If Gitmo is closed there will be many detainees released who will return to being or join terriost and kill Americans.  I guess this is what Obama wants!

    I never know what to make of people like (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 08:11:09 AM EST
    you.  To begin with, we did this to these people, but the last thing on your mind is accountability and making restitution to the innocent.  I'm not an expert, but if the innocent don't have sociopathic tendencies chances stand in our favor in the extreme that if we make attempts to repair the damage that we have done that we will only release sad and broken people who will seek to find some sort of quality of life after having so little.  I firmly believe when I read comments like yours that the thing most feared is looking into the abyss of what was done in our name and without much of fight on our parts as well to completely innocent people.  God help us all facing that head on.

    Tracy (2.00 / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:03:42 AM EST
    We'll send you a couple.


    It's by example you know.


    Fine, send them (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 07:27:15 AM EST
    Agreed, send them (none / 0) (#44)
    by FreakyBeaky on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:40:52 PM EST
    Not everyone is going to soil themselves at the idea like our new pro-torture friends around here.

    Are you sincere when you say (none / 0) (#46)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 06:02:43 PM EST
    send them....

    I really wish I could, but as you know, I can't.


    Hmmmm, so you think (5.00 / 0) (#49)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:19:59 AM EST
    I have no experience dealing with persons whom this war on terror has broken and terrorized and made dangerous?  Has your husband jumped out of bed ready to kick your a$$ when you walked into your own bedroom?  Has he been having a bad dream and woke up swinging on you?  How about perpetually looking for possible roadside bombs for months in Colorado driving on American roads and highways?  How about being fearful of silence because that is what it always sounds like before the mortaring?  Some families have had things much much worse too, some families died due to how their soldiers came home from all this.  It's hard conversing with you ppj sometimes, because your ideals and what they have purchased all of us that live with the end result of them don't add up to payoffs that your rhetoric says ought to be there.  The assets just aren't there when total assets are tallied and many military families live with dangerous people now.  What's one more broken potentially dangerous person in this "war on terror"?

    that's absurd (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:18:06 PM EST
    Please don't use this site to spread inflammatory propoganda.

    After All This Time (none / 0) (#6)
    by jb1879 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:28:43 AM EST
    These are people who directly or indirectly killed Americans.  We need to hold them as long as needed and use any means needed to get information out of them.  They should not be rewarded for killing Americans.  What a disgrace to our American Military to even suggest that these detainees be released or moved to where they get escape and kill more Americans.  You say this can't happen, ha, how offen do you hear of someone escaping from Maximum Security Prisons here in the U.S., very often!!!!!

    Supermax (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 08:05:52 AM EST
    It's not just for the convicted anymore.

    Oh please (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 08:59:30 AM EST
    You write:

    It's the right and moral thing to do.


    BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

    The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

    His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

    "They're one and the same guy," said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. "He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear."

    You write:

    Their detention and treatment over the years has made a mockery of the Constitution's guarantees to both a speedy trial and the opportunity to confront one's accusers in open court.


    The Constitution does not guarantee non-US citizens anything.

    What's next? Unemployment payments and social security for the elderly?

    Rights of non-citizens (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Peter G on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:53:55 AM EST
    Jim writes, "The Constitution does not guarantee non-US citizens anything."   This is utterly mistaken.  The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that most if not all of the rights guaranteed in our Constitution to "any person" are equally applicable to non-citizens.  The Supreme Court has also held that non-citizens are not part of "the people" who are referred to in certain other contexts in the Constitution.  For example, non-citizens have exactly the same procedural rights as citizens when charged with a crime, because those rights are guaranteed to "persons" (Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, or to "the accused" (Sixth Amendment).  

    Why Jim would think that "Unemployment payments and social security for the elderly" are constitutional rights for anyone, I cannot fathom. Both are statutory rights, guaranteed by New Deal legislation as amended at various times since.  As a matter of fact, I think that non-citizen residents who work legally in the United States, as most do, are in fact entitled to both benefits based on their employment records.  If Jim is thinking of "equal protection," then what the courts say is that non-citizens can be treated differently from citizens in contexts in which they are not "similarly situated," and on the same theory must sometimes be treated the same, taking into account as well the nature of the legitimate governmental purpose in question.  Or maybe I misunderstood, and Jim's comment wasn't intended to evoke a serious response.


    Nope (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:21:20 AM EST
    People legally in the US have the protections of the Constitution.

    People outside the US do not. Or do you opine that we should tell the rest of the world that their legal systems do not apply to their citizens?

    That's rather arrogant, eh?

    Hey, works for me. Let's call up OPEC and tell'em they are out of business... Price fixing not allowed, etc., etc.

    I thought the unemployment and social security bit a rather obvious snark. I should known that you wouldn't figure that out.



    Thanks for explaining, Jim (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Peter G on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:15:09 PM EST
    Now I understand.  When you write, "The Constitution does not guarantee non-US citizens anything" -- and underline it for emphasis -- what you mean is "People legally in the US have the protections of the Constitution.  People outside the US do not."  I guess to you those two assertions mean the same thing.  Because I speak and write English, I think they don't even remotely mean the same thing.  The second set of statements are not particularly accurate either, but since we apparently don't have a common language for communicating, I won't get into the details of that.  

    I understand that you don't want to understand. (none / 0) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:33:35 PM EST
    I'll give you a chance.

    Tell me why our Constitution should apply to non-citizens outside the US??


    thanks for giving me a chance (5.00 / 0) (#28)
    by Peter G on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 08:12:58 PM EST
    I really appreciate that; I wouldn't even have had a chance it it weren't for you.  But as I said before, we don't use words the same way.  For example, you now want me to tell you "why our Constitution should apply to non-citizens outside the US."  (Since your sentence was not a question, I am leaving off both question marks from my quotation of it.  Or maybe there's some magic to the double-question-mark-thing that I also don't understand.) But I haven't written or said one word about what our Constitution "should" do.  I don't claim to know better than the Framers, so I'm not saying anything about what the Constitution "should" say or do. I'm not writing a constitution from scratch, and I'm not proposing an amendment. I was discussing what the Constitution does.  

    I explained that many provisions in the Constitution -- by their plain language and as consistently interpreted -- apply to individuals without regard to citizenship, which you had apparently denied.  You said nothing about "outside the United States" until later.  

    Anyway, now I gather that you are assuming, although you don't quite say so, that the military base at Guantanamo is "outside the United States" for these purposes.  That was the Bush maladministration's position in designing the detention facility there, but they were wrong. The Supreme Court has decided this question twice, and both time has said that alien detainees at Guantanamo do have certain constitutional rights.  See Boumedienne v. Bush, 553 U.S. --, 128 S.Ct. 2229 (2008), and Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466, 483 n.15 (2004).  What authority to you rely on do claim otherwise, particularly in such a supercilious tone?


    Well, you take a lot of words (1.00 / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:56:44 PM EST
    to say that the GITMO prisoners, according to the courts have certain rights.

    I thought we all knew that, but thank you for restating the known.

    If I understand your base position you believe that the Constitution applies to everyone regardless of citizenship and/or location and without their knowledge or desire, given that some people might reject the idea that all people are created equal. I refer not to the race, but the gender and note the treatment of Muslims to the females of the world, as an example. I think we could find other examples but I will stop at this point.

    So I would say that in fairness to all, that if you are unwilling to accept all of the Constitution I see no reason for you to be given certain parts. And I note that this is a personal belief and I make no claim of legality.

    Thus I see GITMO and the legalistic way we have treated these people as charity by us and reject the SC's musings in the matter, although my rejection is of no consequence beyond my own satisfaction.

    In fact, contained in that very example of disagreement we see the differences between us.

    The Left, as a group, are fond of stating that we must not do this, or we must not do that because to do so would lower ourselves to the standards of those who seek to control the world and bend us to a 7th version of Islam.

    Since I believe that all rights are God given I believe the right of self-defense is the most important of all rights. If this requires I dirty my hands my soul knows that I did so as a moral imperative to protect those God expects me to honor and defend.

    As to my tone and claim?

    Sir, I do so as a Freeman and Freeholder. American by birth and the Grace of God.

    Do have a nice night.


    Nighty, night (none / 0) (#33)
    by Peter G on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:25:11 PM EST
    I appreciate your clarifying that when you speak of what the Constitution requires, you mean what you wish it meant, based on your religious opinions.  The Supreme Court's written opinions are only issued after extensive research and after respectful and well-informed debate among opposing views.  They are then presented in detailed, meticulously justified, written form.  These decisions must be considered binding constitutional law (unless and until duly overruled) if we are to have the rule of law in a free country.  To you, these opinions are no more than random "musings" -- that is, if you don't like them.  Sorry I wasted my time trying to discuss with you what started out as serious-sounding (but incorrect) legal claims, since, as you now admit, you really don't care about what the law is.  However, since I totally disagree with your suggestion that "if [someone is] unwilling to accept all of the Constitution[, then] I see no reason for [that person] to be given [the benefit of] certain [other] parts," I would grant you the absolute First Amendment right to believe whatever you want about "rights" on religious grounds, even though you are "unwilling to accept" the part of the Constitution (Article III) that makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter of the scope of everyone's constitutional rights.

    Coffee? Tea? Double standard anyone? (1.00 / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:58:58 AM EST
    I note you spend a lot of words complaining that I find some of the SC's findings to be the result of random musings. Perhaps I hurt your feelings. As a group I find the Left easily offended when someone disagrees with a SC ruling they find helpful to their desire to release prisoners from GITMO.

    As to your claim that I don't care what the law is, please don't put words in my mouth. That I disagree has nothing to do with caring. Someone who is supposedly so careful in the use of words should do better.

    And you grant me no rights. I, and the Founding Fathers, found all rights to be God given. So I have the absolute right to disagree although I understand the difference between disagreeing and acting on the disagreement.

    As for the SC being the final arbiter I need to go no further to remind you that we have just celebrated a birthday of a man who disagreed with the SC's rulings, although his actions were more about enforcing the rulings after the SC came to see their errors and issued a new ruling.

    The Left, again as a group, love to "speak truth to power." I find it curious that you object to someone doing so. Perhaps I should have written, "speak the Left's truth to power."

    The claims regarding the reach of the Constitution are rather scattered. If we are to grant various portions to prisoners held in GITMO, should we not demand the same of Germany, or others, who have arrested an American? Better yet, a German arrested by a German?

    Shall we send in the police for Iranians hanging gays? How about honor killings in Palestine?

    It is no small question. What the SC has done is extend its power. You seem to enjoy this extension, so why did you complain when Bush invaded Iraq on what surely was enough "reasonable cause" to launch any police raid?

    If we are to select what parts of the Constitution apply to the wide wide world, who shall do the selecting?

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

    `But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

    `The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    `The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'

    -- "Through The Looking Glass," Lewis Carrol


    Jim, enough (5.00 / 0) (#47)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 06:20:53 PM EST
    You are starting to insult other commenters.

    You made your point of view known and have tried to explain it several times.

    Your attempt to argue constitutional law with an appellate whiz like Peter is going nowhere.

    I don't mind you expressing yourself but I'm not going to have you keep repeating your points and driving readers away.



    OK (2.00 / 0) (#48)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:58:23 PM EST
    But one correction.

    I wasn't arguing law.

    I was arguing morality.



    So, he was radicalized? (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:22:54 AM EST
    You know, I couldn't make the stuff you write up.

    So you are guessing. (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:24:31 PM EST
    My guess he was a al-Qaeda when arrested and let go in error.

    You wrote (2.00 / 0) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:04:57 AM EST
    "may have been."

    That's a guess.

    As to guilt or innocence, his post release actions speak loudly. You don't get released and within two years rise to a high position.

    And if I deign to respond?? Good grief, have you been in the cooking sherry?


    Yes, it has been my experience (none / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 01:35:48 PM EST
    that country leaders of al-Qaeda don't just pop up in two years.

    And yes, I believe you have been the cooking sherry.


    Haven't several hundred been released (none / 0) (#18)
    by Radix on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:39:58 AM EST
    from Gitmo?

    Why do (none / 0) (#13)
    by CoralGables on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:11:35 AM EST
    people assume anyone will be moved to a jail such as this without being charged first? Those that are charged will be held. Those not charged will be released. Let's not jump the gun.

    After seven years, the rule of law will finally take effect and not the law according to Dick.

    Bush trials (none / 0) (#21)
    by Oceandweller on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:43:18 PM EST
    First they must be tried, if found innocent, sned back to where they belong, if convicted sent to jail.
    Secondly, what sort of judgemental quality are Bush trials IF THE GUYS THEY FREED ARE BACK TO al qaida....

    Bush never did anything right
    when we had the world at our side looking for Bin Laden in Afghanistan he went ad=fter saddam in Iraq and see how much we lost there in every angle on the word losing
    when he captured ennemies, he denies justice being served and he freed who should not have been freed
    this man is an absolute failure and we shall have to pay bacjk for each day of histenure the only thing he ever did right was to leave  on the 20th of january 2009

    detaining terrorist (none / 0) (#22)
    by bush on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:44:55 PM EST
    It seems we might learn from our enemies since they don't seem to have our problem and do not recognize the Geneva Convention .It is now, since Jan 20, illegal to question prisoners other than asking them if we can make them more comfortable, so it is a waste of time to bother with them. Remember on 9-11 one of those planes was headed to public housing where the President resides and private citizens gave their life to save the place.We have short memories. I am 71 years old, still remembering and as far right as I can go.CNN prevents me from leaving any opinions under the guise of " waiting for moderation"-so feel free to censor me but remember my generation left this country better than we found it in 1937.

    Yes we did (1.00 / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:34:43 PM EST
    Try to base your opinions on facts (none / 0) (#35)
    by Peter G on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:40:34 PM EST
    You say, "It is now, since Jan 20, illegal to question prisoners other than asking them if we can make them more comfortable."  That is false.  The truth is that under President Obama's proclamation the United States government again acknowledges that it is illegal to violate the Geneva Conventions, by using torture (itself a grave crime) and other inhumane practices.  There is a world of difference.  The real world.

    Great Point (none / 0) (#36)
    by FreakyBeaky on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 12:41:45 AM EST
    After all, during WWII we learned from our enemies and threw the Geneva Convention out the window just like them.

    Oh, wait ... we didn't.  

    Maybe you don't have such a great point after all.

    Oh well.


    gitmo prisoner release (2.00 / 0) (#40)
    by bush on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 10:49:53 AM EST
    Have you ever heard of the Malmedy Massacre Dec 17 1944 or the Bataan Death march. Since it is apparent you are computer literate check this date and Bataan Death March subject and decide who threw the Geneva Convention out first or whether it is worth the paper it is written on.

    New commenter Bush (none / 0) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:42:37 PM EST
    Please read our comment rules. This is a criminal defense site. You are quickly turning into a chatterer and are limited to four comments a day.