Congressman Murtha again shows his ignorance of his own district when he offers to house Gitmo prisoners in his Congressional district in Pennsylavania.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top House Democrat who is a leading critic of the Iraq war says he would have no qualms about transferring Guantanamo detainees to a prison in his Pennsylvania district.

Suspected terrorists at the military’s detention center in Cuba are “no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo,” Rep. John Murtha told Fox News on Wednesday.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, the first problem is that Murtha assumes that the district he serves is “his” district, as if he was Lord of the Manor.

No, Congressman, the district belongs to the local people.

And some of them remember that it was friends of those in Gitmo who caused an airplane to crash and kill some people nearby on 9-11.

But the real problem is that one wonders if Congressman Murtha knows about the Federal prison in his district.

There are two prisons in Murtha’s congressional district: One, a state facility, full of “bad guys”, in Cresson.

But unless someone is charging terrorists with ordinary crimes in Pennsylvania, such as murder, drug dealing, or robbery, legally the Gitmo prisoners can’t be placed in the high security Cresson State prison.

The other one is a “country club” type low security prison, in Loretto, which usually houses high level drug dealers, officials who take bribes, and non violent white collar criminals.

You might remember when Mayor Barry was sent there.

(There is a “high security” Federal prison in Lewisburg, full of bad guys, but this is in another congressional district).

So what about the Federal Prison in Loretto?

Well, saying he’d house them there is a joke. It’s just too easy for a professional criminal to escape from.

The locals all joke that if you pick up a suspicious looking hitchhiker near Loretto, stop and call the cops and check who’s missing.  I’d say it was a joke, but when I lived in the area, one drug dealer was actually caught this way.

There is also a problem of security.

Terrorists have been known to smuggle out important information via their lawyers or other visitors, but in Loretto, some enterprising inmates were communicating with outsiders by using a “drop”, a hole in a tree a short ways outside of the prison perimeter.

Unfortunately, the tree was next to a yard of one of our nurses, who had a six year old daughter who often played in the yard with her friends.

The nurse was unsure what to do.

If she reported it to the authorities, and it was a drug dealer communicating with his gang, she worried that someone might take revenge on her family for spilling the beans.

But she was worried that the one who picked up the message could endanger her kid, or if the prison authorities saw one of the inmates outside the wire and tried to stop him.

So the nurse put a note in the treehole:

Dear Sir.

Please find another place to send out your letters.

My children play near here.

The end result is that no more letters or packages appeared in the treehole, no one got hurt, and presumably the inmate found another letter drop.

So, Congressman Murtha, if you want to house some friendly harmless terrorists in a low security prison within walking distance of several major highways that’s your business.

But make sure all those nearby trees are checked for holes first.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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