Two weeks ago, U.S. Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, along with Representatives Lynn Jenkins, Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt, all from Kansas, issued a statement supporting the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility scheduled to be built in Manhattan, Kan.
The decision to award Kansas the new facility was not without detractors – most notably the runners-up contenders in Texas and Mississippi. But the Kansas politicians rejoiced in the fact that the $650 million facility is project to bring $3.5 billion to the state, and create 500 high-paying, scientific federal jobs.
The Department of Homeland Security approved locating the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, after reviewing 18 possible sites over 6 years. NBAF will be dedicated to researching the biological threats of foreign animal diseases and diseases transferred from animals to humans.
But at least one heartland resident has trouble connecting the dots between Brownback and Roberts’ support of NBAF and their opposition to transferring Gitmo detainees to Kansas, the home of the U.S. military’s only maximum-security prison.
Mary Sanchez, a columnist for The Kansas City Star, wrote this week that Roberts and Brownback “went berserk” when word got out that the Obama administration was thinking of transporting the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Leavenworth to stand trial. “We don’t want them here,” Sanchez quoted Brownback as saying. “They should be treated with dignity and humanely, but it should not be here.”
Sanchez also wrote: “When words of opposition weren’t enough, the senators stomped their feet and put holds on key Obama appointees for the Departments of Justice and Defense. Nothing like a little senatorial temper tantrum to ensure bureaucracy grinds to a halt.”
But Sanchez says “Brownback was singing a different tune when Kansas was chosen in February as the new site for the nation’s bio-defense lab.” She says Brownback and Roberts “seem to believe that the U.S. government can protect the lab and its devastating contents yet is not up to the task of safeguarding detainees. Somebody explain the logic there, please.”
Read Sanchez’s column.
Also, AgriTalk recently interviewed Tom Thornton of the Kansas Bioscience Authority on the matter. Listen to the audio interview.
A powerful Missouri congressman issued some reasons this week why the detainees shouldn’t be moved to Leavenworth. Rep. Ike Skelton said it is “not an appropriate option.” In a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Skelton said such a move would be problematic for Fort Leavenworth's teaching college and could require a massive investment to not run afoul of the law.
"I have strong indications that, if detainees from Guantanamo were to be transferred to Fort Leavenworth, a number of Muslim countries would decline to continue to send their students to the Command and General Staff College," he wrote. "This would have a very negative outcome for our military officers, the school, and the health of our relationships with Muslim nations."
He also said the law doesn't allow for co-imprisonment of domestic and foreign prisoners. Fort Leavenworth is home of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks housing American military prisoners. – Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.