by Paul Bowers
As reported last week, Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston was identified as one of six Department of Defense facilities where prisoners from the controversial detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could be relocated if the U.S. were ever to shut down the overseas facility. Also on the table as a new home for the prisoners: four federal correctional institutions in South Carolina.
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, asked the Government Accountability Office last month to present a report on viable alternatives for housing the prisoners, the GAO came back with a list of six Department of Defense facilities capable of holding prisoners for more than a year and 98 prisons that had housed inmates with a history of or connection to domestic or international terrorism. Among those 98 prisons are South Carolina's own Federal Correctional Institution Bennettsville, FCI Edgefield, FCI Estill, and FCI Williamsburg (which is located in Salters). For a sense of where these facilities are in the state, check out this map.
David Maurer, director of the GAO's Homeland Security and Justice Team, emphasizes that his office isn't weighing on whether Guantánamo detainees should be brought onto U.S. soil. "These are just places where, if the decision was made to bring them into the U.S., they could possibly be placed in some of these locations," Maurer says.
The decision on whether to relocate the prisoners lies with Congress, where Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is putting up a fight against the idea, recently taking the Senate floor to call the Gitmo detainees — many of whom are being held without charges or a trial — "crazy bastards that want to kill us all."