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What's Next for Guantanamo. A Five Star Getwaway?


Those of us who have been to the Guantanamo Bay detention hellhole and marveled at the beautiful setting have an idea: After the prisoners have gone, turn it into a tropical resort and condominium development. How's that for thinking ahead?

Obviously, there was little of that when President Obama impetuously announced in the love-fest first days of his administration that he would shut the place down and put an end to a site that had become an international embarrassment.

Unfortunately, his grand plan has collided with a national phenomenon we know as NIMBY.

So, when most states are mentioned as possible destinations for the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, they are quick to wall off any detention centers within their boundaries with a resounding "Not In My Back Yard!!"

Send the inmates to Ft. Leavenworth? Kansas screams, "NIMBY!!" Plan on trying some of them in Northern Virginia, Washington or New York? Even though ambitious U.S. attorneys are competing for these resume-making cases, in the neighborhoods outside the courthouses, the cries go out: "NIMBY!!. (Actually, in New York it's "FAHGEDDABAHDIT!!")

Is it possible to turn NIMBY into MIMBY ("Maybe In My Back Yard")? Perhaps in Michigan, where the dismal unemployment rate is about 15½ percent. The state's Upper Peninsula may offer a case study in how economic desperation can trump the fear of terrorists nearby.

That should explain why the response there is a definite MIMBY. In the town of Standish, a penitentiary is about to close. So, when the administration floats the trial balloon that it's considering special high-security facilities, where the unique inmates transferred from Guantanamo's sunny shores could be tried in courtrooms located behind the prison walls, the people of Standish go, "Hmmmm. How many jobs would it save?"


After all, this is a state littered with shuttered auto plants. Does it really need an abandoned prison to also blight the landscape? What many would consider unacceptable danger, the residents of the Upper Peninsula could very well view as an opportunity. But not so fast, Standish. There are huge issues to be settled before the detainees go anywhere.

First of all, Congress has specifically blocked spending money for any exodus from Gitmo. Second, there are formidable legal concerns -- like what do you do with the really bad guys, who are beyond legal proceedings because the evidence against them is shaky or too sensitive for public exposure?

One advantage cited for the single prison-courthouse plan is that it would keep all these dangerous people in one location. They would not be scattered around the country. It would be easier to manage them.

One disadvantage is that it would hold all these dangerous people in one location. They would not be scattered around the country. It would be easier to attack just one target.

When Guantanamo was selected as the home away from home for alleged terrorists, it was quickly called "the least worst place" by the Bush administration. The new president has quickly found out why.

However, it might be a downright dandy spot for tourism. It could become a preferred seaside destination for the very wealthy, including those from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, looking for, well, an escape from their dangerous back yard. Talk about exclusivity: Guantanamo Bay as the ultimate gated community.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 4, 2009 9:45 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Whoever Sausage a Mess?.

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