This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, since (a) Barack Obama is desperate to close Gitmo any way he can do it now, (b) Illinois Democrats practically lobbied to use the Thomson Correctional Facility for that purpose, and (c) Obama can afford to anger Illinois. What — they’re going to abandon their native son in 2012? Anyway, the folks of Illinois may be forgiven if they scratch their heads at the curious notion that we’re about to import terrorists as a way to improve national security:
A prison complex 150 miles from Chicago will house Gitmo detainees, the Obama administration will announce Tuesday.
A senior administration official tells ABC News that on Tuesday the administration will announce that President Obama “has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois to house federal inmates and a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” …
“Closing the detention center at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda,” the official said. “Tomorrow’s announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, two leading officials — both Democrats — who have supported the move, will be briefed on the decision Tuesday by administration officials.
Closing Gitmo protects our national security by … removing a recruiting tool from Osama bin Laden? Wow. Who knew that AQ would be crippled by Gitmo’s closure? I guess we can breathe a sigh of relief to the halcyon pre-Gitmo days when bin Laden couldn’t find anyone to conduct large-scale terrorist attacks, like 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers in 1996, the twin bombings of our embassies in Tanzania in 1998, and the USS Cole attack in 2000.
Again, not much of a surprise here, but expect this to dramatically change the rules of the game. Once the US brings these terrorists into the US, we can no longer hold them as unlawful combatants. If they manage to beat the courts — not an unlikely scenario, given the fact that they were captured and not properly “arrested” — they’ll have to get released here in the US. After all, deporting them turns out to be a big problem, since no one else has been foolish enough to agree to let them into their country.
Well, except Obama.
Will Congress attempt to stop the AQ Airlift? They could do that if they had enough votes to override an Obama veto, but that seems very unlikely with Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker. Expect Republicans to use this as just another example of Democratic cluelessness in 2010, along the lines of ” This administration seems a lot more concerned with the comfort of terrorists than with creating jobs for Americans,” and expect it to resonate.
Update: Dan Calabrese has a must-read interview with Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, on why this is a very bad idea:
“The public doesn’t really know who these people are,” Hoekstra said in a Monday afternoon interview with The North Star National. “They don’t know what they’ve done. I’ve seen the profiles of many of these people. I know who they are. I know what they’ve done and I know why we haven’t sent them back anywhere else in the world.”
Because the information he has is classified, Hoekstra is not able to go into much detail about what these 200-some detainees have been doing at Guantanamo Bay. But one thing he makes clear is that their efforts to kill Americans did not stop when they arrived at Gitmo, and that’s going to present challenges you don’t face with your typical prisoner – even with a serial killer.
“I can’t give you the profile of someone who is on murderers row and is serving a life sentence versus a jihadist, and how you might hold them differently,” Hoekstra said. “But talking with experts, they said it’s two very, very different problems. In 99 percent of the cases, these radical jihadists will behave differently. They’re still invested in killing Americans. It’s not like they’ve been arrested and convicted and given a life sentence for a fit of rage where they killed their neighbor. These people are still committed to destroying the American system and killing Americans.”
And they just might get a first-hand opportunity to do that in Thomson. While their actual guards will almost certainly be U.S. military personnel, the Obama Administration has promised that the federal government would bring – and pay for – as many as 3,800 new jobs to the community as part of the agreement for Thomson to host the Gitmo detainees.
Read the whole thing. It’s almost unfathomable as to how any administration could give up a facility perfectly suited for this kind of detention, run by military units trained to do it, in favor of dropping terrorists into the heartland of America. Why almost unfathomable? After increasing troop strength in Afghanistan, Obama needed to throw a bone to the Left, and this is it.