The Real Danger of Gitmo in Illinois

Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) is the man responsible for northwestern Illinois’ interests in the U.S. House.  His constituency includes Carroll County, where the Thomson Correction Center — potential new home of the Gitmo detainees — is located.

News reports from the AP to Northwestern University’s Medill Reports quote several locals as anxious for the prison to open because Thomson needs the jobs.

But while Manzullo is looking at 10.5 percent unemployment in Carroll County alone, he’s also looking at an unprecedented risk to any representatives’ constituents.  He says their reactions are mixed but that probably more are opposed than support the Gitmo relocation plan.

Manzullo is sending a letter to President Obama asking that the federal government buy the prison for its use, but to not bring Gitmo detainees there.  

What concerns Manzullo is not a prison break, but that the administration is essentially moving Gitmo, not closing it.

“The problem is that that will make Thomson…a magnet for the very same people that hate Gitmo,” Manzullo said.  “Would their hate transfer?”

Manzullo said the Department of Defense could not answer that question.

The Carroll County website advertises the county is “an easy 3 hour drive west from the Chicago-land area.”  The tourism link reads, “Native Americans named this place “man-i-tumi” meaning Land of God.”  You can go eagle watching on the banks of the Mississippi. It has only one stoplight.  To coasters, moving detainees here may seem like torture, but this is the heartland of America.  When these people have to worry about terrorist retributions in their backyard, it’s like we’ve already lost the war.

In a statement given to HUMAN EVENTS, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) blasted the idea of sacrificing people’s safety for job creation.

"Bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to an Illinois prison is being portrayed as a jobs and economic bonanza that minus a referendum and vote will be decided on by Democrat leaders in our state," Kirk said in the statement.  "With the prospect of increased risks to our homeland security and the magnitude of this decision, the people of Illinois deserve answers to basic questions. Given the basis of Governor Quinn’s and Senator Durbin’s argument is job creation and economic development, those are critical questions that need specific answers."

A pending legal issue for the Gitmo transfers — including those heading to New York, like KSM — is their immigration status and consequent legal rights once they arrive in the U.S for trial. Seven Republican senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano yesterday inquiring about this as a follow up to questions asked of Holder in a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.  The senators are all members of the judiciary committee: Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).