Friday, January 23, 2009

Statehouse Republicans Petition Governor to Oppose Relocation of War on Terror Detainees to Colorado

Republicans at the capitol are circulating a petition asking Gov. Bill Ritter not to volunteer Colorado's Supermax prison as a site for the relocation of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The request, which was drafted by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, implores Ritter to oppose any effort by President Barack Obama to relocate individuals captured in the War on Terror to the state.

"I don't really think it would be appropriate to mix these terrorists with the current prison population. They're going to be in our prisons recruiting inmates to kill American servicemen and civilians," Kester said. "Besides, there simply isn't enough room. We don't have the beds or staffing to accommodate that many new prisoners."

Evan Dreyer, the chief press spokesperson for Ritter, said the GOP is simply looking to score political points.

"I don't think the Republicans in the Colorado statehouse are acting any different than the Republicans in Washington," Dreyer said. "There was a similar type of knee-jerk reaction from Republicans in Washington as we saw today from Republicans in the statehouse."

U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio and the House minority leader, issued a statement Thursday criticizing Obama's decision.

Boehner, expressing fears that federal judges would order detainees held in a prison in the continental U.S. released, said Obama's plan to close the Cuba prison has not been well thought out.

Dreyer explained that Ritter supports Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and that the ultimate decision about who can be placed at Supermax is not in the governor's hands.

He also emphasized that Ritter believes that any detainee who is classified as a combatant under relevant international law should not be housed at the high-security prison complex near Florence.

"If they're military detainees, then Supermax is not the appropriate facility for them to be detained in," Dreyer said.

The military detention complex at Guantanamo Bay holds about 250 prisoners that could be classified as enemy combatants.

Obama issued Thursday an executive order that requires the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility used by the U.S. armed forces to hold foreign citizens suspected of involvement in the nation's war against al Qaeda and allied terrorist organizations.

As of Friday afternoon the petition included the signatures of three statehouse Democrats: Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus.

Republican signers of the petition include Senate minority leader Josh Penry of Fruita, Kester, and 12 other GOP senators. House Republican leadership team members Mike May of Parker, David Balmer of Centennial, Cory Gardner of Yuma and Amy Stephens of Monument, as well as 18 other GOP representatives, also signed the document as of Friday afternoon.