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Hey, let's move Guantánamo up to Montana!

By Jimmy Orr / April 24, 2009

Ah, Montana. The land of wildlife, wide open skies, and the new Guantanamo? Well, if town officials in Hardin (not pictured) have their way.... The Hardin city council OK'd a plan that would look into transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to an opened jail facility in their town. Montana's congressional delegation isn't supportive of the idea.

MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN / CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

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Well, the town of Hardin, Montana, liked the idea anyway.

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Credit their ingenuity. Town officials in Hardin (population 3,384) have a 460-bed detention center that has sat unopened since construction in 2007. With construction loans in default and a need for tenants to fill the facility, they started examining their options.

So with President Obama announcing the upcoming closure of Guantánamo Bay, the town leaders got to thinking they have prisoners, we have a spare jail....and it's not going anywhere....

This is a no brainer, right? Or as Bill Murray said in Caddyshack, "It's in the hole!"

Go forth

Exactly, thought the Hardin City Council. They loved the idea and by a 5 - 0 vote told the local economic development team to go forward and rally up some support from state and federal officials.

After all, they've got the competitive advantage.

"There are 50 states, and some state is going to get this and they're all going to have issues and they're all going to need money," local economic development leader Greg Smith told the Billings Gazette. "But we have something the others don't."

An empty jail. Or as the website RantRave called it: Montánamo Bay.

Delegation

So is Montana's congressional delegation jumping at the idea?

Well, this time we'll quote Sasha Cohen from Borat: "Not so much."

"We're not going to bring Al-Qaeda to Big Sky Country -- no way, not on my watch," Senator Max Baucus told the Gazette.

The state's other senator -- Jon Tester -- agreed saying he is "against any proposal to bring Guantánamo detainees to Montana."

And to make it a hat trick, Congressman Denny Rehberg added, "We should be doing everything possible to keep them out of our country, let alone our state."

Joe the Terrorist

And then U.S. Marshall Dwight McKay chimed in comparing the difference in the prisoner populations.

"These are not the normal Joe Six-Pack meth users," MacKay said. "This is a different league of people that can be considered a national threat. We have to take the proper steps to ensure the safety of our community, the safety of our courts, the safety of our U.S. attorneys."

Undaunted

Discouraged? Not Greg Smith.

"I still think it's going somewhere," he said.

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