News about the White House plan to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to a prison in northwestern Illinois should be a relief for Kansans who were concerned the inmates might end up at the ill-suited U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
It also should be a relief for the nation, because of the damage the prisoner abuses and legal limbo at Guantanamo have done to America's reputation as the world's greatest defender of human rights.
As for worries that the detainees will pose a threat, either on their own or by inspiring attacks on U.S. soil — the nation has proved it can handle alleged terrorists, having seen nearly 350 convicted in U.S. courts and confined to U.S. prisons over the years.
There once was broad support for a Gitmo shutdown, after all, including from former President Bush, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
But once closing Gitmo moved from talk to action, the positions shifted along partisan and geographical lines. So the GOP members of the Kansas delegation in Washington, D.C., reacted predictably to Tuesday's announcement.
The statement by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, made a point of noting that the Illinois prison is "less than 300 miles from the Kansas border" and warned, "The president's decision to house unrepentant terrorists in the Midwest will put the safety of American citizens at greater risk."
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