As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to shut down the “lawless enclave” at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, there was discussion of possibly moving detainees from the island prison to be incarcerated stateside (just like many other terrorism suspects). Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), local politicians, and city residents welcomed the idea of bringing the detainees to a virtually empty maximum security prison called the Thomson Correctional Center in Thompson, Illinois. However, Republicans have repeatedly blocked any attempt to close Guantanamo Bay. On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reported that the Illinois Republican delegation successfully stripped a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act that would have allowed a transfer of Guantanamo detainees.
Recently-elected Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been one of the staunchest opponents of moving detainees to the United States. In a letter he circulated last year, he claimed: “If [the Obama] Administration brings Al Qaeda terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization.” Kirk took his hyperventilating to a new level on World Net Daily’s radio program on Monday. Speaking with host Greg Corombos, Kirk said that moving the detainees to a supermax prison in Illinois would make the American heartland “a new mecca for terrorists.” Kirk also said that he feared that Qatar-based news agency Al Jazeera might send reporters to Illinois, and such a development would somehow “lower the security of the entire United States”:
COROMBOS: We’ve seen over time this idea of potentially moving some of these detainees is that a prison facility in Illinois is right at the top of the list. As the new senator now representing the whole state, what’s your reaction to the possibility that that could happen?
KIRK: We should not bring Guantanamo terrorists to the heartland. It would make us a new mecca for terrorists, for Al Jazeera and other network attention and I think would lower the security of the entire United States. Having Guantanamo Bay far away from the continental United States is very helpful in that that’s the center of attention rather than any American community. Bringing this to the heartland I think presents a clear and present danger to the security of the American people.
Kirk’s freak-out over Guantanamo detainees and Al Jazeera news is not rooted in any rational line of thinking. Prominent Republicans, like Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), have granted interviews to Al Jazeera; are these politicians welcoming a “clear and present danger to the security of the American people,” as Kirk would say? If Kirk was worried about the influence of extremist news agencies, did he know that he was speaking on a radio program owned by the “Birther King” Joseph Farah? Kirk’s irrational fear of journalists does not comport with the liberties granted by the First Amendment.
Moreover, while serving as a member of the House of Representatives last year, Kirk voted for a different bill authorizing funds to bring detainees stateside. By Kirk’s logic, he voted to create a “new mecca for terrorists.”