Cucullu, Stop Gitmo North, hold two engagements in Standish
STANDISH — Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Cucullu met with community members at two separate events on Wednesday to discuss the problems that could arise if Guantanamo Bay detainees were transferred to Standish, and also comment on the stigma surrounding Gitmo, which he says is not deserved.
Cucullu said he first visited Guantanamo Bay in 2005 when rumors and reports about abuse and torture were on the rise.
“I was extremely concerned about what I was hearing about Guantanamo was true,” he said at a 1 p.m. meeting in the Arenac County Courthouse. He added that he then proceeded to visit Gitmo four more times.
“I was so impressed by what I saw,” Cucullu said.
According to Cucullu, detainees are treated better than speculated in Guantanamo Bay, and receive medical care, such as colonoscopies for detainees over 50; dental care; special diets if requested; and he also said recreational time is available and that a library is on hand.
One issue he, said, is that Abu Ghraib (Iraq) prison scandals have led people to make the same assumptions about Guantanamo Bay.
“Abu Ghraib had a huge negative effect. Abu Ghraib was a stain on America,” he said. “These things tend to be painted with a broad brush.”
Not all of the discussion revolved around Gitmo’s condition and status, however. Cucullu, and an associate, Jeff McQueen, also spoke on some of the dire situations that could arise if suspected terrorists were imprisoned in Standish, as they would have rights not currently bestowed upon them.
“I guarantee you within months (if detainees are brought to Standish, or placed on American soil), there will be an attack, and it will be in a middle school,” McQueen said. He explained that middle schools are hot beds for small-scale attacks, since the girls there aren’t old enough to fight back, but old enough to rape, and the male students aren’t strong enough to put up great resistance.
Cucullu added that environmentally there would be changes as well, since if he were in command of the facility, trees would be taken down to give him “better fields of fire.” He also said that the terrorists held in Gitmo were the “worst of the worst,” and had support, even saying they were “rock stars of terrorism.
“Dearborn is a hotbed of terrorism,” Cucullu added.
He also said that closing Guantanamo Bay wouldn’t take away the negative connotation that follows the center.
“Geography isn’t going to change the image,” Cucullu said. “It’s not going to be Guantanamo Bay is an aberration to our image, it’s going to be Standish, Michigan is an aberration to our image.”
However, during the meeting at the county courthouse, which was followed by a similar one in the Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church social room at 4 p.m., some of the community members said they felt differently than McQueen and Cucullu.
“When we built this place in 1990, we had the same aberration,” said District III County Commissioner Mike Snyder. “The ramification of what you’re saying is that we’re opening this place up.
“That’s the problem we’re having here, is living with fear and ignorance,” he continued. “It’s these things that have drawn a line in the sand.”
Curt Hillman, Standish Township Supervisor and Chair of the County Economic Development Corporation, called the scenarios raised in the anti-Gitmo transfer rhetoric fear mongering.
“These are all your perceptions of what you think could happen,” he said. “My thing is **facts.”
County Commissioner Raymond Daniels also asked, if it were so easy for detainees’ accomplices to communicate with them on American soil, why hadn’t terrorist sympathizers tried to release international terrorists held in other prisons within the continental U.S.
Standish Max Sergeant Dale Hughes was also skeptical as to whether or not the criminals held in Standish Max over the last 20 years were any less dangerous than Gitmo detainees.
However, no matter which side of the issue people at the meetings were on, all agreed that more communication is needed between the residents of Standish and the federal government.
“The absence of information is what’s killing us here,” Snyder said.
11 people attended the meeting in the county building, while approximately 15-20 attended the meeting at the church.