Will Colorado Host Guantanamo Bay Detainees?

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Photo: Guantanamo detainee (AP Photo)
In this March 30, 2010 photo, made through one way glass, a Guantanamo detainee carries a workbook as he is escorted by guards inside Camp 6 high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba.

About 60 men being held at a military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as detainees in the war on terrorism could be transferred to Colorado.

As early as this week, Department of Defense officials are expected to visit the state for a site visit to assess where the men would be held. The two sites being considered are the federal Supermax prison complex in Florence and an empty prison in Cañon City.

Many in Colorado's congressional delegation oppose the idea and argue it's a security risk to have the detainees held in the state. But Jonathan Hansen, a senior lecturer at Harvard University and author of "Guantanamo: An American History," told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he thinks those concerns are overblown. Photo: Jonathan Hansen at Gitmo

Click the audio link above to hear the conversation. Interview highlights are below.

On how the new prison would be run:

"The Obama administration is trying to identify a place to move Guantanamo north. ... A place that will be run by the Pentagon in the charge of U.S. troops. So it's very different from mixing the crew that's down at Guantanamo now, the detainees down at Guantanamo now, into a U.S. federal prison. That's not the plan.

"They're looking to see if they can exploit space near, or adjacent, or maybe in a federal prison -- maybe a wing of a federal prison. But it would be an entirely different facility."

On what wouldn't change:

"Most of the abuse, most of the torture that occurred there is over. ... But what isn't over is the indefinite detention of people picked up under questionable circumstances. ... That would persist wherever this lands in the United States. Whether it's in Florence or in Cañon City, Leavenworth, or the Brig in South Carolina.

On where the detainees are from:

"Many of them now there are from Yemen. And Yemen is so unstable that we fear throwing any of these detainees back there because there's no government, no state capable of keeping an eye on them. So we're not just going to hand them back to Yemen."