West-Central Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton has written Defense Secretary Robert Gates, arguing that Ft. Leavenworth is not an appropriate location for terrorist suspects now imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee , wrote Secretary Gates, laying out his case against re-locating Gitmo detainees at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas . Skelton’s main argument is that Ft. Leavenworth doesn’t just house the US Disciplinary Barracks, but the Army’s Command and General Staff College as well, which attracts foreign students from throughout the world.
Skelton worries that Muslim countries would quit sending students to the college, if the United States detains terrorist suspects at Ft. Leavenworth.
"Ft. Leavenworth does a superb job and like all of our war colleges they have foreign students and I want the cultural exchange to continue as it does now," Skelton said in an interview with the Missourinet.
In the letter to Gates, Skelton wrote, "I agree with the President that the detention facility in Guantanamo, in the minds of many around the world, have tarnished the otherwise sterling reputation of our Armed Forces and our country. Guantanamo has also become a recruiting tool for those who would seek to harm us."
Skelton then outlined two objections, the first focusing on the war college at Ft. Leavenworth. The second centered on a more legal issue.
"In addition, as you may be aware the United States Code precludes the proximate detention of American and foreign individuals," Skelton wrote in the letter. "Although relevant case law interpreting the U.S. Code does not prohibit certain co-location under particular circumstances, plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth would require additional expenses for military construction and enhanced security so as not to run afoul of the law. I urge you to look carefully at those costs and security requirements in making your recommendations to the President."
Ft. Leavenworth is located in Kansas, just across the state line, north of Kansas City. Skelton insists that location has nothing to do with his objections.
"If the Command and General Staff College were somewhere else, I would say the same thing," Skelton replied. "But the fact that it’s in my backyard, of course, does bring it closer to home."