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DoD Team Surveys Charleston Site for Guantanamo Prisoner Transfer

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 02, 2015 — A Defense Department assessment team is surveying Joint Base Charleston’s Navy Consolidated Brig in South Carolina as a potential prison to house detainees after the wartime prison at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closes, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.

As directed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, a DoD assessment team is working with prison staffs to determine the costs of housing detainees, in addition to assessing the facilities for force protection, troop housing, security, transportation, information security, contracting and other operational issues, Davis said.

The facilities also are assessed for their ability to serve as a military commissions site, he added.

The Charleston visit is the second survey following the assessment at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Davis said.

While Fort Leavenworth and Charleston are the only military facilities the team has visited so far, said Davis, noting other military sites could not be ruled out.

“But those are the only two we’re planning on now,” he added.

Non-DoD Sites to be Surveyed

“We want to emphasize no facilities have been selected yet,” Davis said, adding it’s likely that non-DoD detention facilities also will be considered.

“We do not know what those [non-DoD sites] are yet,” he said.

DoD is working closely with interagency partners to determine which non-DoD facilities could be assessed in the near future, he added.

While no deadline exists for the assessments, Davis said DoD’s intent is get the work done very quickly, based on President Barack Obama’s commitment to closing the wartime prison before the end of his presidency.

Thorough Analyses Involved

“There is a lot of work to be done,” Davis explained.

“Congress wants specific cost information included … It isn’t just a matter of changing legislation to allow detainees to be brought to the United States,” he said, adding that DoD wants to provide Congress with “a full picture” of the surveys.

In an Aug. 20 briefing with reporters, Carter said he directed assessment teams to perform the facility surveys so that DoD, the White House and Congress can “chart a responsible way forward and a plan, so that we can close the detention facility at Guantanamo and close this chapter in our history once and for all.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)