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September 2, 2009

Gitmo Detainees At Home in Michigan?

When President Obama signed an executive order in January to close Guantanamo bay, he said he wanted to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism.” What he didn’t say is where the administration intends to send any of the current prisoners.

Since that order, several detainees have been sent to countries like the United Kingdom, Bermuda, and Afghanistan, and now some may get sent to Standish, Michigan.

Standish Max is the only facility that federal officials have toured so far but other sites, like Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are under consideration, though there is much more resistance there.

Many Standish officials say bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners would help the local economy, but at a recent town hall meeting some thought safety concerns outweigh those economic benefits.

Before a final decision is made, federal officials will return to Standish, giving residents another chance to question authorities again about what a new home for Gitmo prisoners will mean to the town.

Quotes

“President Obama has — has stated that he is not going to force these Guantanamo inmates on a community — community that does not want them. And from what I have talked to my constituents around the area, this community does want it. They — they have come to like the prison. It’s a big part of the community, a big job provider, a big source of revenue for the town — or — the town.” State Rep. Tim Moore, R, Michigan

“I don’t know. I just don’t like the idea of — of the people coming from Guatemala.” Jan Ex, resident

“We, as a people, what — what chance do we have to fight [the prison] if we oppose it? Do we have any chance at all? We’re just a small town. I have a feeling that’s why this is being brought here, because we are a small town.” Jean Nixon, resident

Warm Up Questions

1. What is Guantanamo Bay? Where is it located?

2. Why did Obama want to close Guantanamo Bay?

Discussion Questions

1. What are the pros and cons of closing Guantanamo Bay? Do you think the administration should close the detention facility? Why or why not?

2. What should be the process for a town to decide to house detainees?

3. Do you want to house detainees in your community? Why or why not?

4. What kinds of communities do you think would want to house Guantanamo detainees? Why do they want them?

5. How are prisoners of the War on Terror different from other types of prisoners?

6. Extra credit: write a letter to President Obama arguing for the Guantanamo detainees to be housed in your community and explain why your area is best situated for it.

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

Whitehouse.gov

Student Voice: My Hometown Should Be the Next Gitmo

Student Voice: Closing Gitmo is the Right Thing to Do

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