Gitmo detainees to Illinois?

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed support Nov. 15 for the Obama administration’s proposal to move Guantánamo Bay detainees to a facility in northwestern Illinois. The Obama administration is reportedly evaluating the Thomson Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located about 150 miles west of Chicago, as a possible location to house accused terrorists. Quinn and Durbin requested that the administration conduct a preliminary economic impact analysis on the purchase of the facility for use by the federal Bureau of Prisons. They pointed to the addition of an estimated 3,000 new jobs to the community and an estimated $790 million to $1.09 billion impact over four years as reasons to support the proposal. Durbin said the sale is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to inject a much-needed economic boost to a struggling region.

Not all local leaders are supporting the possible transfer of accused terrorists to Illinois. US Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) issued a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him not to transfer detainees to the Thomson Facility because of fears that it will lead to terrorist activity in the Chicago area. While it is not clear whether the prison would be the only domestic facility for Guantánamo transferees, in order to hold detainees in US, Congress would have to change a law specifically prohibiting detainee transfers into the US except for trials. Last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that some of the detainees accused of perpetrating the 9-11 terrorist attacks would be tried on US soil, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Bin Al Shibh. (Jurist, Nov. 16)

See our last post on the detainment scandal.

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  1. Obama: Gitmo deadline blown
    In an interview in Beijing with Fox News Nov. 18, Obama acknowledged that he will not be able to meet his pledge to close the controversial detention center at Guantánamo Bay by January.

    “It’s hard not only because of the politics. People I think understandably are fearful after a lot of years where they were told that Guantanamo was critical to keeping terrorists out. So, I understood that that had to be processed, but it’s also just technically hard — I just think as usual in Washington things move slower than I anticipated.

    “We are on a path and a process where I would anticipate that Guantanamo will be closed next year,” he said. “I’m not going to set an exact date because a lot of this is also going to depend upon co-operation from Congress.”