Brownback Questions Gates on Detainee Policy

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Sam Brownback on Thursday at an Appropriations Committee hearing questioned Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the Obama Administration's plan to transfer enemy combatants currently at Guantanamo Bay to other facilities.

"As I told Secretary Gates, and as I have said numerous times in the past, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is not the place for military combatants," said Brownback. "I hope that the Obama Administration hears the concerns discussed at Thursday's hearing and that President Obama accepts my invitation to tour Fort Leavenworth. I believe that if the President sees first-hand the facilities at Fort Leavenworth, he will agree that it is not suited to house military combatants."

Brownback has repeatedly stated that Fort Leavenworth is not an appropriate location to house enemy combatants. He has noted that Fort Leavenworth's primary mission is military education and that moving detainees to the post will alienate the visiting military officers from Islamic nations who participate in vital international military education programs. In addition, he has expressed that Fort Leavenworth is not a suitable location for enemy combatants because the Disciplinary Barracks are primarily a medium security facility housing military prisoners; the proximity of the base to a community airport, farms, and the surrounding City of Leavenworth; and the lack of medical facilities on site, which would require transporting combatants through town to be treated in community hospitals.

The senator has suggested that should the Guantanamo Bay facility be closed, a new facility should be built and designed specifically to handle detainees.