The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Terrible Place for Terror Trials: Letter to the Virginian Pilot

A couple days ago, an article ran in the Virginian Pilot that mentioned Hampton Roads as one of the potential locations to try Gitmo detainees…which prompted the below response from me. An edited version appeared in the newspaper today.

This morning (August 13), I read in your paper of the Justice Department’s consideration of Hampton Roads federal courthouses as a location for federal trials of Gitmo detainees. As a Navy veteran who served with Joint Task Force Gitmo, I feel it’s important I weigh in on this issue.

There is no good reason to subject the people of this region to the threats and challenges that would arise from bringing the Gitmo detainees to this area. The security problems associated with holding these trials in a public courthouse, even considering the exceptional capabilities of our area’s law enforcement, are extreme. I would expect that the last thing anyone would want to do is set the scene for a Mumbai-style terrorist attack in our region. While an extreme possibility, it is one that must weigh in the minds of Hampton Roads residents and both local/national decision makers.

In a region already burdened with severe transportation challenges, holding these trials here would only serve to highlight the inefficiency of our local highway system. Your example of the Moussaoui trial in Alexandria clearly illustrates the level of security needed to conduct these trials in a manner that mitigates the risks to the public. Imagine a cordon of blocked streets in downtown Norfolk or near the shipyard in Newport News, and the thousands of people who would see an already difficult drive to work become nearly impossible.

Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, has already stated his strongest opposition to bringing the detainees to Virginia, stating, “The terrorists and enemy combatants currently housed 90 miles from our shores at Guantanamo Bay are some of the most dangerous men in the world.” Having first-hand knowledge of those detained in Gitmo, I agree.

H.R. 1638, introduced by Representative Forbes in March, would prohibit the use of federal funds to house detainees at any location in Virginia. I call on Representatives Bobby Scott and Glenn Nye, who represent the citizens who would be most affected by this decision, to join in support of Forbes’ legislation. Their silence to date speaks volumes to me on their commitment to keep the residents of Hampton Roads safe.



Written by Coby Dillard

August 17, 2009 at 7:06 am

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