Former military, intel and security officials pen letter on Standish Max as Gitmo detention center


The following letter was written on Aug. 27 and a copy of it was e-mailed to the Independent. The full text of the letter reads:

Former National Security Officials Call on Rep. Hoekstra to Stop Politicizing Debate Over Sending Detainees to Standish

~ Call on Hoekstra to "return the debate to the 'civil and rational' in order to stop the spreading of fear that plays into the very hands of the enemies we are trying to defeat"

Representative Hoekstra:

As military and national security officials who have spent our entire careers fighting to protect the American people and the defend country from attack, we all agree that the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay needs to be closed-as do five former Secretaries of State, Gen. David Petraeus, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. We also agree with you that the discussion over closing Guantanamo and moving the detainees to a new facility needs to occur, as you have said, in a "civil and rational way." That is why we were disappointed last week-during a town hall meeting in Standish, MI, whose prison is a possible site to detain terror suspects -to hear you politicize such a critical national security issue and disseminate misrepresentations and exaggerations about closing Guantanamo and the possibility of housing terrorist suspects on American soil. In doing so, you spread fear in order to score political points, and perpetuate the Bush/Cheney era strategy of seeking political victories instead of doing what's right to protect the country.

According to reports, you said there was "much to fear" if the detainees came to Standish. Standish tavern owner Dave Munson stated your comments "scared the heck out [him]...soft targets and safe zones, that if they came to this country they would have rights, visitors and friends would come who could be jihadists." But you also acknowledged that the Supermax Facility in Florence, CO-which houses terrorists like Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack who was captured in Pakistan, Zacharias Moussaoui, convicted in connection to the attacks on 9/11, as well as the East Africa Embassy bombers-has never had a major incident or attempted jailbreak. And indeed American prison facilities-and the men and women who work there-have proven themselves extremely capable of protecting American lives while also imprisoning dangerous terrorists; even after decades, we have never had a major incident tied to the domestic imprisonment of terrorists.

The former warden of the Supermax facility said prisoners "spend up to 23 hours a day in their cells, every minute, every meal. The window in their cell is blocked so they can't see the mountains." Yet you stated that detainees housed in America "would have greater opportunities to command and control their networks through outsiders and to spread radical jihadist ideology." The Supermax warden also stated that Ramzi Yousef has never left his cell. If the same-if not stricter-standards are applied to Guantanamo detainees held domestically, then how exactly would they command terrorist networks overseas?

You also said in the past that you "have no doubt that we could move these folks into a prison in Michigan. We could move them into a maximum security prison perhaps anywhere around the country. And there's no doubt in my mind that we could probably contain them and hold them and they wouldn't escape." Do you still believe this to be the case?

You also stated in testimony to the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee that "making Michigan home to the world's most dangerous terrorists will not make it more attractive for tourists, families or potential job providers." We ask if you can say with certainty that Colorado's economy has been negatively affected by housing terrorists in the Florence facility-or the economies of Illinois, New York City, or North Carolina, for that matter-which have all held or detained some of the world's most dangerous terrorists?

The bottom line is while the Administration should provide a clear plan for closing Guantanamo and transferring detainees, we should also not allow the destructive politics of fear, which tarnish America's national security imperatives, to dictate the debate. By stirring up panic and distorting reality for political purposes, you do a disservice to the people of Michigan and the United States. Politicizing national security for partisan gain has dangerous consequences for effectively defending this country and protecting American lives.

You yourself once demanded that "partisan political games have no place when it comes to national security." We ask you to live up to your own standards when it comes to discussing Guantanamo Bay and detainees. Whether it's in Standish Michigan or the halls of Congress, politicizing national security is always dangerous. We ask you to return the debate to the "civil and rational" in order to stop the spreading of fear that plays into the very hands of the enemies we are trying to defeat.


Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham (US Army Res. Ret.), Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants at Guantanamo Bay, 2004-2005

Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton (USA, Ret.), National Security Network Senior Adviser

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Jr. (USA Ret.)

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn (USN, Ret.)

Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick (USA, Ret.), Former Deputy National Security Adviser

Richard Clarke, Former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council

Margaret Henoch, Retired Senior Officer, Central Intelligence Agency

Jonathan Winer, Former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for International Law Enforcement

Vic Comras, Former State Department Minister Counselor

Do you agree or disagree with the letter? Leave a comment.


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I think that Representative Hoekstra at least showed up to the town hall meeting and spoke up. He may not know what all is going on but he is willing to listen to the people and give his opinion. What you have in the letter is a bunch of former military who want gitmo here. All of these people are pushing for the closing of gitmo and the rights of the detainees. They don't write this letter because they care about this town. One was with the president when he signed the order to close gitmo. Some of the others work for, for hire security adisor companies and have connections to other companies that could profit from bringing gitmo to the US. I think this letter is meant to try to to change the minds of the citizens of Standish but still provides no real information. What I would like to see are the facts. I do know the DOD will tell our area leaders what could happen but once they are here it will be about what they say they need. Don't look for many locals or current employees of the prison to be working there. Do look for military on short tours from other bases and a strong chance of the community being left out. Either way I think we need to know the facts of who will be running it, what are the land requirements, where will the workers be coming from, and how will it affect the community?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Report this

The letter writers claim they "never had a major incident or attempted jailbreak" with these three prisoners. What exactly do they classify as a major incident? They said nothing about minor incidents. What exactly do they classify as minor incidents? Are these letter writers willing to show the captivity history of these three to see for ourselves if we, the residents of Arenac County, think their history in captivity would not be a threat to us? I bet not!

DON"T close the prisons and keep the criminals where they belong and terriorists coming to Standish will NOT be an option.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Report this

the US is fighting overseas to insure Irag and others have freedoms

Mr. Hoekstra was speaking his opinions and exercising his first amendment right of free speech

why the letter basically telling Mr. Hoekstra to not excercise his free speech?

Friday, August 28, 2009 | Report this

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