MIAMI (AP) — A team of Pentagon officials began scouting sites in Colorado on Tuesday as potential alternatives to hold prisoners from Guantanamo Bay as part of the long-stalled effort to close the controversial detention center on the U.S. base in Cuba.
The team planned to assess facilities at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence and the state penitentiary in Canon City as alternatives for a “limited” number of detainees from Guantanamo, said Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman.
They are looking at what changes would be needed to the facilities in Colorado to detain the prisoners and to hold proceedings for those facing trial by military commission, Ross said.
The Pentagon team also has also surveyed the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.
President Barack Obama has sought to close Guantanamo since taking office but has been thwarted by Congress, which has banned transferring prisoners to the U.S. and placed restrictions on sending them abroad.
The Obama administration is seeking to lift the ban but faces opposition in Congress, including from members opposed to moving prisoners to their districts. Human rights groups and detainee advocates say they also object to continuing to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge at any location.
Among the sites that are being assessed by the Pentagon team is the Supermax in Florence, Colorado, which has been dubbed “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” and already holds convicted terrorists.
The U.S. holds 114 prisoners at Guantanamo, including 54 who have been cleared for release. The rest are either facing trial by military commission or have been determined by the government to be too dangerous to release but are not facing charges.