Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: Big House on the prairie

On January 22, new President Barack Obama signed an executive order promising that Guantanamo would go -- within a year. But closing the prison in Cuba -- and figuring out where to put the 229 suspected terrorists now held there -- has proved complicated. Moving at least some of them to facilities in the United States is still a possibility, although Supermax, the federal maximum-security prison down in Florence, is already full with such residents as 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, who's reportedly not pleased with the food he's getting.

Since Supermax has its hands full, it might be time to consider the offer of Hardin, Montana, whose officials have said they'd welcome adding the Gitmo detainees to its population. They have an empty, 460-bed prison, built as an economic-development measure in 2007, and although it would need considerable beefing up of security systems, it could be as good a location as any. In April, the town's city council adopted a resolution pronouncing that Hardin "fully supports the efforts of the Two Rivers Authority to contact State and Federal officials for the purpose of inquiring into the possibility of housing Guantanamo detainees at the Two Rivers Authority in Hardin, Montana, and to determine whether the Two Rivers Detention Center could provide a safe and secure environment for housing said detainees." They asked for it; they should get it.

I just drove -- fast -- through Hardin, a tiny burg on the plains right up against the Crow Reservation, and about the only thing more daunting to a potential escapee than an ocean might well be that sea of grass. And even a Montana winter could be a fair trade for a Cuban summer.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun