Secret List of U.S. Military Bases to Replace Gitmo

Pendleton, Leavenworth, Miramar included as possible new home for 250 detainees.

January 16, 2009, 2:18 PM

Jan. 16, 2009— -- The U.S. military has prepared a list of U.S. military bases that could be used to house as many as 250 detainees currently being held at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, military officials tell

The list -- which includes Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas; the Marine Air Station in Miramar, California; and the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in South Carolina -- has been circulated in a classified brief to members of Congress and was prepared by the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to order that the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility be closed on his first day in office, officials say. Officials say it would take at least a year to prepare a new prison and transfer the detainees.

The preliminary list was based on cost, logistic, and security concerns, but the Department of Defense is expected to present a more comprehensive recommendation based on a variety of factors, according a military official.

Camp Pendleton was determined to be the least expensive option and officials say its vast 125,000 acre size would allow for a new prison to be built in an isolated and secure area.

60,000 Residents, Employees at Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton has a daytime population of 60,000, according to its website, including military personnel, their families and civilian employees.

Three San Diego county Congressmen have already voiced opposition to sending the terror detainees to Camp Pendleton.

Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying Camp Pendleton was too busy preparing Marines for combat.

"We feel that introducing Guantanamo Bay terrorist suspects would certainly negatively impact Camp Pendleton's training and wartime missions," the letter stated. "For those Marines serving in harm's way they should now not have to worry about the safety of their families."

Click here to see the letter sent to Secretary Gates.

A spokesperson for Hunter, a retired Marine combat veteran, said he had not been informed of the recommendation.

A spokesman for Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) said that the Senator called Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen earlier this week to convey his concerns about using Fort Leavenworth to house detainees..

Brownback, who was not briefed on this list, spoke out against the possible use of Leavenworth at Thursday's confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder.

"Fort Leavenworth does not want these detainees," Brownback flatly told Holder. "If I could put it any clearer to you, I would. But they don't want these detainees."

Brownback said the use of Leavenworth to house prisoners would interfere with the primary mission of the base which is education.

"And if you hurt that by moving detainees to a place at Leavenworth that's not fit anyway to move this, this is a big hit," said Brownback. "And I would just plead you really to look at the specifics. "

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