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Council Opposes Transfer Of Guantanamo Prisoners To Miramar

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Council members Lorie Zapf, Myrtle Cole, Mark Kersey, Chris Cate and Scott Sherman listen during a City Council meeting on March 23, 2015.

The San Diego City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution opposing a potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

President Barack Obama is reported to be finalizing plans to shut down the detention facility, which houses reputed terrorists at a Navy installation in Cuba, and moving the inmates to the U.S.

While MCAS Miramar appeared on a list of potential transfer sites in a 2012 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the administration has turned its focus to facilities in Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina, according to recent reports.

In the resolution, San Diego Councilman Chris Cate, whose district includes the sprawling air base popularized in the film "Top Gun," said a move of prisoners "risks the safety of community members living or working on or near the base."

"MCAS Miramar is the home of 19,000 military personnel, civilian employees and families and sits in the heart of America's eighth largest city," Cate told his council colleagues. "These Marines and sailors are dedicated to serving our country as well as the surrounding communities of the base."

Councilman Scott Sherman said the resolution is not a reflection on the military's ability to keep San Diegans safe if detainees are moved to Miramar.

"I know the military is more than capable of keeping us safe," Sherman said. "This is more along the lines of we'd rather (the detainees) not be here altogether and not put that burden on the fighting men and women over at Miramar."

The president pledged to close Guantanamo when he was campaigning for office, but congressional Republicans oppose such an action. The Defense Authorization Bill passed by the House of Representatives and Senate bars the transfer of the detainees to U.S. soil.

The detention center at Guantanamo Bay was set up in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the facility, which reportedly holds 112 detainees, is opposed by human rights organizations.

Cate's resolution "strongly urges the president and Congress to remove MCAS Miramar from consideration for the relocation of Guantanamo Bay detainees."


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