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From Gitmo to the Rock
January 26, 2009 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Alcatraz's American history began as the first US fort on the West coast, where it served as "an icon of US military power". Before it held these guys, it held these guys. This guy thinks The Rock would be a good place for these guys.
posted by JVA (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
That guy sounds like a jackass.
posted by chillmost at 6:30 AM on January 26, 2009


It's not clear how they plan to deal with the fact it's currently a museum.

Man, if you listen to the right wing talk about this, it's like they think these terrorists are like actual supervilans. I mean, they're talking about the fact that some of the proposed prisons are near airports and stuff, as if these guys would escape, somehow go unnoticed in their orange jumpsuit and their mugs all over the news and then like just conjure up some explosives using their magical terror powers or something.

Seriously these people are just ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on January 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


An Alcatraz story:

When I was younger I lived in downtown Manhattan. On hot days we would walk down along the Hudson River to the park opposite The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Tourists would always be standing by the railing taking photos. Often they would ask what the other historic looking old building across the water was. We would always say... "That? Oh thats Alcatraz." It made them so happy. No one ever questioned it. They just took more photos.

(It is actually an old semi-abandoned railroad terminal)

posted by R. Mutt at 6:33 AM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alcatraz does have symbolic power to it but it's got some serious logistical and infrastructure issues (like a lack of potable water), I'm sure that it would be easier to put them in a compound somewhere away from a large population center. And we do have maximum security prisons already, some of these guys are dangerous but they don't have super powers.
posted by octothorpe at 6:34 AM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, reading conservative bloggers this week, you'd think Khalid Sheik Mohammad needs to be kept in that plastic prison Ian McKellen got tossed into at the end of the first X-Men movie.

The point of Guantanamo Bay was never security. We have far more secure prison facilities at several supermax sites here in the US. The point was that it was supposedly a legal Neverland, a place where no laws applied to those being kept there. That's the only reason we didn't stick them in Leavenworth in the first place.
posted by EarBucket at 6:35 AM on January 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


What, no love for the Global Peace Foundation? If you visit any coffee shop or walk by any public bulletin-board and you'll see their fliers. There was actually a ballot item to raze the existing buildings and build a new peace center, but the non-legally binding measure was rejected, 72% to 28%.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:39 AM on January 26, 2009


Last week on my morning drive, I heard a sound bite from an interview with some airhead politician telling me that the Guantanamo detainees are the most dangerous people on the planet and that I would be an asshole to think that any prison in the United States could contain them. I laughed so hard I nearly drove off the road.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:41 AM on January 26, 2009


Wait a second... I sense a little bait-and-switch here. Do you mean that when Obama closes Gitmo no one gets released? What's the sense of closing it if no one gets released? Why was it such a big deal to close Gitmo if no one gets released?
posted by Gungho at 6:42 AM on January 26, 2009


(The hook was, "Do you want these people in your back yard?" No, I don't, but then again, my back yard is not a maximum security prison.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:43 AM on January 26, 2009


Another odd Alcatraz story: while in Russia, my family hired two guys to drive us - one was also a tour guide, the other knew very little English and seemed to be fond of my wife (in that he gave her preferential treatment over the rest of us, and was all smiles for her - they were both really nice). Whenever anyone rode in this fellow's car, you knew you couldn't really ask too many questions about the things we drove past. But every now and again he'd know the English name for something.

As we drove past some industrial-looking brick building, my brother asked my wife and I if we thought that building might be an old factory, or a gloomy looking school. The driver spoke up and said "Alcatraz!"

He also knew of rally cars.

posted by filthy light thief at 6:46 AM on January 26, 2009


Seriously these people are just ridiculous.

The sad thing is that the right-wing spin machine is still obviously working at full steam ahead, setting Obama up to fail on closing Guantanamo.

I can only hope that Obama will be able to talk over their heads, directly to the American people, in a way that will convince them that these people are not Lex Luthor.

And not even, necessarily, terrorists. Where is the evidence? They are suspected terrorists for the most part, and the Army doesn't even have its shit together to present the new administration with comprehensive dossiers on all of them.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:49 AM on January 26, 2009


It's really not even worth talking about. It's clearly some airhead Republicans idea of a way to "punish" the "San Francisco liberals" and the only reason it's come up is to get them air time on radio and tv talking about "security" when they have nothing to contribute to the actual work of fixing the country. Lets just drop it in the Stupid folder and move on.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:02 AM on January 26, 2009


Do you mean that when Obama closes Gitmo no one gets released? What's the sense of closing it if no one gets released? Why was it such a big deal to close Gitmo if no one gets released?

I think the idea is that those inmates who haven't already been identified as candidates for release and repatriation (i.e., any random people we picked up for torture and detainment because they looked suspicious--suspicions "confirmed" when the 15-year-old jihadist locked up in Guantanamo acknowledged under interrogation that he had possibly seen them attending a terrorist camp in Afghanistan after viewing their photo, like Canadian citizen Maher Arar) will get proper trials within either the US Federal courts or some newly defined alternate court system that operates in a manner more consistent with established US standards of law and due process. The current military courts grant a lot more prosecutorial leeway in terms of what's allowed to be presented for consideration as evidence (for one thing, as I understand it, they permit the consideration of hearsay as evidence).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:04 AM on January 26, 2009


Also meant to say: Those already known to be candidates for release, presumably, will be repatriated or otherwise released.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:06 AM on January 26, 2009


I see no reason why the ones that can't be tried or convicted can't be released. Here's what I envision:

If they can be safely repatriated, then they are repatriated. If not, they are given a modified permanent resident status in the US. The conditions of that status could vary depending on how 'dangerous' they are, but could include wearing a tracking device, being forbidden from leaving the country/state/city they are in, being forbidden to contact one another, etc. Honestly, even hiring a couple of FBI agents per released inmate to keep them under continuous surveillance is probably cheaper than maintaining Guantanamo.

As others have pointed out, these people are not super-villains. There are easy, conventional ways to allow them a lot of freedom without posing any substantial danger to the wider population. Plus, if they ever broke their parole, then we would have usable evidence of a crime to charge them with in regular court.
posted by jedicus at 8:28 AM on January 26, 2009


Contra all you (admittedly, wise) people, I think this is a great idea and if anything, the scorn she showed only demonstrates Nancy Pelosi's modern political tone-deafness and lack of creativity. She should be completely ju-jitsuing this churlish suggestion by embracing the idea until Young backs down or it turns into a big win for her.

(1) Alcatraz has always been in SF, it's always connoted "the worst prisoners". There's no harm to the city's image if it houses prisoners again. As all above say, there's no actual risk anyway, it's all just an image issue.

(2) Alcatraz really is (was) a very secure prison. So if this is a serious proposal, Rep Young should also sponsor a bill for all the funding necessary to make Alcatraz state of the art. This will cost a fortune, and be great for SF (money, jobs).

(3) It would show that the empowered Democrats actually can walk the walk. The prisoners in Guantanemo should be treated as criminals, of the riskiest/most-dangerous kind. So do it. Treat them the way you would an accused serial killer.

Pelosi's response should have been "Well, that's interesting! It would cost a fortune to turn Alcatraz back into the sort of state-of-the-art facility we need for our highest-risk prisoners, though, and I'm not sure the expense will make Alcatraz the best choice... but if he is serious about this, I look forward to seeing Rep. Young's funding proposal."

The worst case is that those convicted and those awaiting trial will be in a well-funded, secure, modern criminal facility, in the full light of day and the law, that has a long history as the place we keep our most notorious. This is just fine.
posted by rokusan at 8:31 AM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those already known to be candidates for release, presumably, will be repatriated or otherwise released.

Saulgoodman, did you read the articles? In many cases, repatriation equals death, and therein lies one of the many twisty problems this horrific plan created.
posted by rokusan at 8:32 AM on January 26, 2009


When I heard about this, I first thought it was a local representative trying to bring some jobs to the Bay Area.

(Love the The tag.)
posted by Pronoiac at 9:06 AM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This gives me an idea for a movie: a bunch of jihadis escape from Alcatraz, and their contact hides them in a safe house in the last place they think the authorities will look: the Castro. So the jihadis have to try to fit into the neighborhood while avoiding detection. Hilarity ensues.
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on January 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


In many cases, repatriation equals death, and therein lies one of the many twisty problems this horrific plan created.

rokusan: well, sure, there are plenty of wrinkles to smooth out. but my point is there's no reason in my mind to think the new administration going forward will continue to seriously entertain a policy of "let's just keep them locked up for the rest of their lives to pay for our mistakes because freeing them would be too messy." hopefully that kind of evilly-callous thinking will no longer be part of the discussion. if repatriation or other options fail, i think we'd be morally obligated to grant wrongful detainees asylum in the states (possibly under something like the witness protection program to protect them from being targeted for persecution), and to offer them generous financial compensation for the harm done (not that money could undo the harm, but it might help them start over).

from the nytimes article:

Mr. Iqbal was never convicted of any crime, or even charged with one. He was quietly released from Guantánamo with a routine explanation that he was no longer considered an enemy combatant, part of an effort by the Bush administration to reduce the prison’s population.

i'm anticipating(/hoping) that once he gets his arms around the problem, obama will move a lot more quickly to release any remaining detainees like this one who probably weren't picked up for any better reason than to add to the newspaper counts of enemy combatants "successfully apprehended" in the war on terror. the rest of the detainees should have their day in court.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ahhh, homonculus, that's brilliant. Sort of an updated Nuns on the Run. All you need is a snappy title and you're set.
posted by rodgerd at 9:43 AM on January 26, 2009


All you need is a snappy title and you're set.

Ooh, ooh!

Al Qaeda.

Which translates to: The Camp.
posted by Drexen at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2009


This guy thinks The Rock would be a good place for these guys.

It can't. Because it already holds these guys. Mwahahaha
posted by terranova at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2009


it's just political posturing disguised as hyperbolic NIMBY-ism. Alcatraz presents major logistical nightmares in order to make it functional, hell they poured concrete down the toilets, plenty of SuperMaxs already in existence.

The more shrill of the Republicans (Boner and Cornhole) are looking for something to fight Obama with, and this is just one more step in the process.
posted by edgeways at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2009


All you need is a snappy title and you're set.

A friend of mine once suggested building a gay BDSM porn site called Guantanamo Gay, and I see no reason why that title couldn't work here.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:57 AM on January 26, 2009


Get these guys a girlfriend in some backwater Appalachian town and tell them they have to work the local coal mine for life. There are thousands of people who never managed to escape that.
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2009


Hilarity ensues.

Escapee 1: Man, I need a bath.

Escapee 2: Hey, I saw a bath house just down the street!

LOL BUTTSECHS.
posted by GuyZero at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2009


Thankfully Steven Seagal and Ja Rule have shown us what a reopened high-tech Alcatraz would be like.
posted by djb at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2009


Can we put Republicans in Alcatraz for trying to drag the country down to their criminally retarded level?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2009


So, any clever ideas on how Alcatraz, which attracts over 1.4 million visitors, can keep its tourism industry going and still play host to our swarthy, explodey guests?

If the terrorists keep Americans from enjoying their vacations, TEH TERRORISTS WIN!!!!
posted by markkraft at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2009


Can we put Republicans in Alcatraz for trying to drag the country down to their criminally retarded level?

I don't think the last batch of Republicans was criminally retarded, exactly.

Retardedly criminal, sure.
posted by rokusan at 12:48 PM on January 26, 2009


So, I thought about going to Alcatraz last time I was in SF, because my SO's never been there, and I haven't been there in ages? And then we saw that tickets to get there were $40 per person?

Somehow, I get the idea that the organizations that charge $40 per person to go to Alcatraz aren't going to really like the idea.
posted by Ms. Saint at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2009


All you need is a snappy title and you're set.


Al Qaetraz: where Iraq Meets "The Rock"
posted by oneirodynia at 2:10 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, any clever ideas on how Alcatraz, which attracts over 1.4 million visitors, can keep its tourism industry going and still play host to our swarthy, explodey guests?

The Stanford Experiment + Ay-rabs + tourism = Profit!
posted by rodgerd at 2:50 PM on January 26, 2009


So, I thought about going to Alcatraz last time I was in SF, because my SO's never been there, and I haven't been there in ages? And then we saw that tickets to get there were $40 per person?

My response to this totally irrelevant detail:
Actually, there's only one ferry company that goes to the island and they charge $24 per person for any of the daytime trips. Night tour is around $28 or something. Not that that isn't terribly overpriced really, and as most of that ticket price goes to the ferry company, I'm sure they wouldn't be too happy about it.

Also I (and a bunch of awesome people that I work with) would no longer have a job, unless I decided a career as a correctional officer would be something other than horrible.
posted by primalux at 10:28 PM on January 28, 2009


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