Illinois prison could house Gitmo detainees

December 9, 2009
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President Obama has expressed his desire to relocate Guantanamo Bay detainees to a prison on American soil. Thomson Correctional Center, about 150 miles from Chicago, is the leading choice of the Obama administration to house the detainees. The move would fulfill President Obama’s campaign promise of closing Guantanamo Bay.
Built in 2001 as a maximum-security prison, Thomson Correctional Center is largely vacant, housing about 150 prisoners in the minimum-security unit (according to the Illinois Department of Corrections). The maximum-security cell houses have been vacant since the prison opened.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons would increase the security of the prison if they decide to occupy it. The Bureau would also ensure that the fewer than 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees kept in the maximum-security unit would be separate from the minimum-security unit.
The move would economically benefit Thomson, Illinois, where people have been badly hit by the recession. The federal prison would create over 3,000 jobs for the town, as well as lower the 10.9% unemployment rate two to four points in the surrounding county (Carroll County) according to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said, “There are too many people out of work, there are businesses closing down because people are out of work. They need paychecks.”
Despite the economic benefits, the proposal is facing fierce opposition from politicians that are positioning themselves for the upcoming state primary elections in January. Mark Kirk, Republican Congressman of Illinois and a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, said that the move is an unnecessary risk. He said that the Chicago area could become “ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization.” He claims that the terrorist suspects housed in a super-max prison 150 miles away from Chicago would jeopardize Chicago’s security.
What was not mentioned by Kirk was that Chicago already temporarily houses suspected terrorists at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, which is within walking distance of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower.

Additionally, federal facilities on American soil house 216 international terrorists and 139 domestic terrorists (according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons). In a supermax facility in Florence, Colorado, Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the September 11th plotters stays, as well as Theodore Kacynski, the “Unabomber.” Roughly 330 miles away from Chicago, in southwestern Illinois, the United States Penitentiary at Marion also houses international terrorists. These supermax prisons often confine their dangerous prisoners to solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. The Thomson prison will be run the same way. Terrorists imprisoned in nearby prisons are nothing new, despite current outrage over the move of the detainees.
Kirk, apparently ignorant of the dangerous prisoners already in our prisons, circulated a letter to Illinois’s congressional delegation and state officials that said, “As elected officials in the state of Illinois, we urge you to put the safety and security of Illinois families first and stop any plan to transfer al-Qaeda terrorists to our state.”
Republican Congressman Peter Roskam of Illinois said, “The Obama administration’s utter inability to create jobs here does not somehow make sending some of the world’s worst terrorists to our backyard a good idea.” In response to the strong opposition to relocating the terrorists, Iowa Representative Bruce Braley said, “The time for fear-mongering is over.”
Closing Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp would end what President Obama described as “a sad chapter in American history.” The Illinois politicians that argue fervently against Illinois housing terrorists were described by Durbin as “crossing the line.” Quinn described the relocation of the Guantanamo detainees as being a “great, great opportunity for our state.”

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

Keepusfree13 said...
Jan. 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm
If we were to close Gitmo, we'd be bringing terrorists onto our own soil. Putting them into a prison in the middle of our country, and allowing them to radicalize other prisoners in the prison. What's wrong with keeping the terrorists at Gitmo?
Jack.H replied...
Jan. 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm
As to your allegation that the detainees would radicalize other prisoners, I addressed that concern when saying that they would be isolated from current inmates at Thompson prison.
As far as keeping terrorists at Gitmo, our country should not resemble the scum of the world who imprison people outside of the court of law. In Gitmo, also, we don't know what they're doing there.
I appreciate your comments, however your fears are largely based on unfounded facts and xenophobi... (more »)
Keepusfree13 replied...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm
First, I would like to say that your article was well written and you got your point across.
Second, bringing terrorists onto American soil will give them constitutional rights and would cost taxpayer dollars. Why should we bring them to the middle of our country instead of leaving them in Cuba? They are prisoners of war and have no constitutional rights. Also, how can 100 prisoners create 3,000 jobs? 300 jobs for each detainee?As for your xenophobia comment, I do not have an unreasonable... (more »)
Jack.H replied...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm
I am happy that you enjoyed my article, and happy that we are having this discussion because civil skepticism and debate is vital to a democratic country.
As far as 300 jobs per detainee--which you (rightly) voiced your skepticism about--I would agree that that sounds like an inflated number. I, however, did not say this number, but a Illinois politician who I believe I cite in the article.
When you repudiated my claim that your conclusions were based on xenophobia, I thought about... (more »)
Keepusfree13 replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 10:49 am
You make an excellent point, but the British soldiers were not prisoners of war. Since the colonists and the British were not yet at war, techinically they were all British citizens. John Adams took a risk by representing soldiers who'd killed colonists, but he was't representing terrorists from another country. The right to a fair and speedy trial applies only to American citizens. Prisoners of war should face a military tribunal. People need to remember that America is at war right n... (more »)
Jack.H replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm
The technicality that the British soldiers that Adams represented were not prisoners of war doesn't disprove my point that this "war on terror" is destroying the ideals our country is founded upon. I realize that the right to a fair and speedy trial applies only to American citizens. But I believe not taking the moral high ground on this issue of how to prosecute people suspected of terrorism would hurt our country . . . its ideals and ultimately, the world's view of us. Al... (more »)
Keepusfree13 replied...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm
How are we supposed to testify against the suspected terrorists in a trial? They were captured while in battle. There is no evidence we can show against them. There is a reason that in times of war enemy combantants are not given trials. Also, respecting the enemy may make us feel all good inside, but it will not change their opinion of us. We respect the Muslim world, but the people we are fighting do not. They don't care who they blow up, Muslim , Christian , or atheist. They fly plan... (more »)
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