I've spent some time now trying to fathom the logic behind bringing Guantanamo detainees to Illinois. I just can't get there. Thomson Correctional Center is pictured left; "X" marks the spot.
There are myriad reasons why it's a horrible idea which others have already gone into better than I.
Jake Tapper points out that Robert Gibbs is now calling John Boehner "crazy" because Boehner has criticized this decision. Boehner has called the move "preposterous" and said, "They’re going to move these prisoners from Gitmo to Northwest Illinois because of some campaign promise that was made in the dark." He has vowed to vote against any funding for said move.
Now Robert Gibbs is criticizing Boehner's criticism. Yesterday, Gibbs asserts that Thomson will be just as safe as Gitmo and that Boehner has nothing to worry about from a national security perspective.
“If there are concerns for security reasons, I would hope some of those people would address why they think the military can do what they're doing at Guantanamo and can't do it at Thomson,” he said.
Gibbs points out that Boehner should watch al Qaeda recruiting videos where "senior Al Qaida leadership in recruiting videos have used the prison at Guantanamo Bay as a clarion call to bring extremists from around the world to join their effort.”
I'm wondering why this administration doesn't realize that al Qaeda will continue to use Guantanamo as a "clarion call" just as they have Abu Ghraib. Just because you move detainees from one prison to the other does not erase its existence from one's memory.
Additionally, if "the military can do what they're doing at Guantanamo" at Thomson, as Gibbs says, al Qaeda, in return, can do the same thing: they can now use Thomson as a recruiting tool. We'll still be "infidels" who are holding their jihadist terrorists in confinement. It doesn't matter what the name of the prison is.
No, it seems the really scary part is that this administration is so determined to keep this dangerous promise regardless of the cost, the will of the American people, or the dangers to national security.
The administration is overlooking at least one of the reasons Guantanamo has not been attacked or that anyone has escaped: there's no place to go once you break out. You're on a naval base. Surrounded by water. On an island. Everything is self contained there. If a prisoner gets sick, there is a damn fine hospital there where they get better (and faster) medical care than most people anywhere in the world.
At Thomson, one would suppose if a detainee gets sick, he'll be transported to the nearest hospital in Chicago about 40 miles away, thus endangering countless numbers of civilian lives.
These are guys that know how to make garrotes from braiding candy wrappers together. Everything is a weapon. Their only purpose is to kill Americans.
Bleeding-heart liberals say that Republicans are fear-mongering and using scare tactics to fight the closure of Guantanamo. These people are ignoring existing facts and recent history.
But, of course, this argument has been raging ever since Obama signed the order to shutter Gitmo back in January. On January 23, Glenn Greenwald posted column accusing Boehner and everyone else opposed to this decision of "fear-mongering" and went on to list a number of terrorists currently being held in United States prisons. In a lengthy, and oft-updated, post, Greenwald's basic thesis was that we are currently holding terrorists in SuperMax prisons and so adding a few more shouldn't be a problem. Anyone who thinks so is fear-mongering.
To me, it all goes back to the same question. Why? Why do this? From a financial standpoint, it's insane. We've spent millions of dollars to retrofit Gitmo to house these guys, provided an on-site hospital capable of handling almost any imagined medical need, an excellent food service facility which prepares high calorie, ethnically approved meals, customized to each detainees nutritional needs and profile, and on and on. From a "human rights" perspective, they've got a much more cushy set-up at Gitmo than they will get anywhere else.
Thomson will have to be upgraded, renovated, and still won't be the facility that Gitmo is. Or maybe it will. The Baltimore Sun reports that there will also be a "tribunal room" at Thomson where military commissions will be held. It seems the only thing missing will be the soccer fields.
No, the "crazy" ones are Obama, Gibbs, and anyone else that thinks that moving over 100 detainees to American soil is a good idea.
This is not a forgone conclusion just yet. Congressional action must be taken to make this happen. Current law says that detainees cannot be brought to American soil for purposes other than prosecution. Does that mean that Obama is going to prosecute all these terrorists, or will the law have to be changed? There is also the financial issue. Money will have to be appropriated for upgrading, renovation, and new construction at Thomson, not to mention the actual acquisition of the property.
Contact your Senators and Representatives and let them know how you feel.
Update: Michelle Malkin has posted a column on this today.
More at Memeorandum.