Thursday, October 8, 2009

Michigan Coalition to Stop GITMO North



For Immediate Release

October 8, 2009

Contact: Kelly Kimball (989-718-3059); Dave Munson (989-737-1814); Linda Brenner (248-505-8055)

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop will join nationally renowned terrorism expert Peter Leitner and Gitmo authority Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu at a town hall Monday night (Oct. 12) at Rochester High School addressing the possible transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Michigan. The forum will be moderated by WJR radio host Frank Beckman. It begins at 7 PM in the school auditorium and is open to the community.

The citizen information meeting is being presented by the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North, a grassroots organization of citizens from across the state concerned about the potential risks of relocating Gitmo terror suspects to the soon-to-be-shuttered prison in Standish. The coalition will also be hosting a program in Okemos on Tuesday night and a legislative briefing at the state capitol earlier in the day.The group hosted the first town hall in Standish when it learned the site was on the federal government’s short list of facilities to house detainees the Administration wants to move to US soil.

“Although Standish residents will be most immediately impacted, this is an issue of monumental importance for all citizens of Michigan. We should all be concerned about security considerations and the negative impact this will have on our state economy,” said Kelly Kimball, former Arenac County Commissioner and a coalition leader.

“With everyone in Michigan fixated on our state’s budget and the nation fixated on health care reform, it is critical this issue get the same attention, so it doesn’t fly under the radar until it’s too late and federal officials force this decision upon us,” Kimball said.

State Senator Bishop, whose district includes Rochester, will provide an update on the latest action the state legislature has taken on the matter. Following state hearings in both chambers, the senate voted unanimously to pass a resolution calling on the federal government to declassify information on the backgrounds of the detainees and their conduct while at Gitmo. The senate also requested authorization for a fact-finding trip to Gitmo. A similar request initiated by US Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan was denied. Just this past week, both the US Senate and US House voted to deny funding to close Gitmo and transfer detainees to the US.

Headlining the panel will be Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu, former Army Special Forces and author of “Inside Gitmo: The True Story behind the Myths of Guantanamo Bay.” The book is based on extensive research backed by five visits to the Gitmo detention facility. He served in Vietnam as a Green Beret and on high level staffs at the Pentagon and State Department. He is a frequent guest contributor and commentator to major media outlets.

Dr. Peter Leitner, will address broader state and national security implications of the President’s intent to move Gitmo detainees to the US. He is the president of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center and served as the principal expert on terrorism issues within the Defense Technology Security Administration of the Department of Defense.

Three community leaders from Standish, including the chief steward of corrections officers, will present a local perspective of why their town is ill-suited to house Gitmo detainees and the negative impact it would have on the region and state. Several other elected officials, including Governor Granholm, have also been invited.

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