HANAHAN - The U.S. Naval Brig is once again being mentioned as a leading alternative to put terror detainees on trial after President Barack Obama this week rekindled his push to shut down the terror-suspect holding site at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Gitmo,” he said. “I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions.”
Speculation immediately re-focused on the brig at Charleston as a leading choice where some of the 166 detainees could go on trial. To make the shift, however, Congress would first have to agree on moving those prisoners to the U.S. mainland.
In the years after the 9/11 terror attacks the Navy Consolidated Brig at Charleston has
regularly been mentioned as a site to hold detainees in the U.S., with the last round of speculation dating to March 2010.
The Navy originally built the brig at the southern end of the Naval Weapons Station as a medium-security holding site for military prisoners serving sentences of 10 years or less. But after Sept. 11, its mission expanded when terror detainee Yaser esam Hamdi, an American citizen, was delivered there in 2002. He’d been being captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan.
Two other high-profile inmates followed, including “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, and Ali Saleh al-Marri, a Qatari arrested in Illinois as an alleged al-Qaida associate.