Reopen Alcatraz

Posted on Tue 02/03/2009 by



Gregory D Lee

On Sunday, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested on Meet the Press that since President Obama has ordered the closure of the military detention facility at Guantanamo Naval Base, he should transfer the terrorists held there to the former prison on Alcatraz Island.

George Stephanopoulos, on This Week, asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose congressional district includes Alcatraz Island and who is a firm supporter of closing Gitmo, what she thought about Rep. Boehner’s idea. She said the former federal prison is now a tourist attraction, and appeared to not take Rep. Boehner’s suggestion seriously. I think it is a brilliant idea.

California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Building a new federal prison on Alcatraz Island to house the world’s most dangerous terrorists would be an economic stimulus for northern California, and especially the San Francisco Bay area.

Think of all the job creation from demolishing and building a new state-of-the-art, super-maximum security prison on land already owned by the federal government.
Architects, excavators, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers, painters, stone masons and iron workers are in need for the project. Let’s not forget the boat captains and crews that are required to shuttle building materials to and from the island. The economic stimulation would also help manufacturers of furniture, paint, carpeting, drywall, nails, plaster, cement, concrete, roofing material, drainage pipes, heating systems, televisions, exercise equipment, light bulbs, serving trays, mattresses, sheets, blankets, plumbing fixtures, toilet paper, soap, towels, computers and telephones.

Once the prison is complete, the Bureau of Prisons will hire hundreds of additional government employees as prison guards, administrators and bureaucrats. These would be permanent, good paying government jobs the president mentioned he wanted to create. All these new employees will need housing, so they might purchase distressed properties in the San Francisco Bay area that are in foreclosure. That would help the suffering real estate industry and banks as well.

You get the picture. Why not spend some of the $825 billion stimulus on bringing Alcatraz back to life? How about adding a few more state and federal prisons around the country while they’re at it? That would go a long way toward reducing crime by keeping convicts in prison instead of releasing them early because of prison overcrowding. It would be money much better spent than on contraceptives and abortions, also known as “family planning,” as the Speaker has suggested.

Of course, there is a downside to having all terrorist suspects held in one domestic facility. Other terrorists, like the 61 already released from Gitmo that returned to terrorism, could go to San Francisco and storm the facility to free their comrades. This was one reason to house the detainees at Gitmo, so Marines and Navy gunboats could easily defeat such plans. However, because Alcatraz is on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, it would have to be quite a sophisticated operation for these or other terrorists to get to the U.S., go to the island, overwhelm the guards and free the jihad warriors.

Nevertheless, terrorists might still be tempted to try to spring them because San Francisco is a self-proclaimed “sanctuary city” that embraces cultural diversity and shields illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities. A member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor once suggested national defense be the responsibility of “the cops and the Coast Guard.” San Francisco denied the Navy’s request to dock the decommissioned battleship, Iowa, in the city to turn it into a museum. The city’s board of education abolished high school Junior ROTC programs, and nearby Berkeley recently took steps to remove all military recruiting stations from their city limits. Considering the area’s anti-military reputation, Speaker Pelosi definitely would not want the Navy circling Alcatraz to protect the island from terrorist attack.

Let’s give Speaker Pelosi’s constituents the opportunity to sacrifice for the good of the country, as the president has suggested we all do, and put the Gitmo detainees in their own back yard. Contributing Editor Gregory D. Lee is a retired DEA Supervisory Special Agent.

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