The Obama administration announced today that it will acquire the prison facility in Thomson, IL to help house a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo. Many residents of Thomson have indicated that they welcome the move, hoping that it will “improve the economic conditions” in their area.
Two months ago, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) voted on a homeland security bill that contained a provision that authorized the transferring of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay. Now that he’s running for Senate and trying to court the right-wing base, Kirk is staking a different position. Commenting on Fox News today about the Obama administration’s announcement, Kirk said he would instead opt to keep Gitmo open:
The much safer policy would be to keep them at Guantanamo Bay. The taxpayer has paid for a $275 million state-of-the-art facility there. And it doesn’t present any of the other security or legal risks that this plan does.
In a blistering op-ed last month, the Chicago Tribune told Kirk, “Give us a break.” The paper argued that while the new Illinois facility “would surely bring economic benefits and jobs to a depressed corner of the state, the best reason for using Thomson for these inmates is that Guantanamo needs to be closed and they have to be locked up securely somewhere.”
Similarly, the Chicago Sun-Times editorialized, “Kirk’s scare talk might do him wonders with the GOP base, but it won’t convince a single terrorist that this nation has a backbone.”