Amid the controversy regarding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Nov. 13 announcement that five high-profile “enemy combatants ” will be tried in a New York Federal Court is a related issue pertaining to the possible relocation of other Guantanamo Bay prisoners to facilities within the U.S. Critics of both decisions, largely from the political-right, have sought to portray both moves as wrongheaded and dangerous. Refutation of such criticism, however, is emerging from some surprising sources.
The Associated Press reported Nov. 14 that the Obama administration is considering the Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois as a potential home for Guantanamo detainees upon the closing of the controversial military prison. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced the following day that Thomson community leaders were receptive to the idea:
The potential relocation of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Thomson has already made for contentious political fodder in Illinois as the February primary elections approach. Among the politicians most sensitive about the prospect is Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, one among eight GOP primary contenders to replace Democrat Rolland Burris in the U.S. Senate.
Kirk, in need of conservative credibility and desperately seeking to avoid being Scozzafavaed (a la NY-23), immediately came out against the import of terrorism suspects. “With the busiest airport in the world and the tallest building in North America, I do not think we should make Chicagoland the center of jihadi attention in the world,” Kirk told the Chicago Tribune.
Among the congressman’s concerns is a misguided fear that thousands of potential terrorists would flock to visit Illinois. However, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was quick to rebut Kirk’s alarmist statement, calling it “totally false.”
The Nov. 14 Chicago Tribune report clarified Kirk’s error:
Obama administration officials said the detainee section of the Thomson prison would be run by the Defense Department, which prohibits detainees from receiving visits from anyone other than legal counsel, rather than by the Bureau of Prisons, whose visitation rules were cited by Kirk.
Set aside Kirk’s factual deficiencies for a moment, and consider this: how much longer must we tolerate irrational predictions of doom upon the closing of Gitmo? At the heart of Kirk’s argument against the move are the same flawed assumptions, often uttered in the conservative media, that the American justice system isn’t up to the challenge of incarcerating and prosecuting these individuals. Fortunately, at least three prominent conservatives have gone on the record stating otherwise.
From TalkingPointsMemo.com, posted Nov. 16, by Christina Bellatoni:
Former Republican Congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, have teamed up to urge the Gitmo detainees be taken to the U.S.
Barr, Keen, Norquist, and others take exception to the notion that American prisons and courts aren’t up to the task in a written statement, combined with others as part of The Constitution Project: a bipartisan effort to “seek consensus solutions to difficult legal and constitutional issues.” The signatories of this particular statement conclude that moving the prisoners “makes good sense.”
This makes good sense for the taxpayers who have invested millions of dollars in these facilities and who are seeing millions wasted every month at the costly, inefficient Guantanamo facility. It makes sense for the community, which will benefit from the related employment and has absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities. The scaremongering about these issues should stop.
But most of all it makes sense for America because it is a critical link in the process of closing Guantanamo and getting this country back to using its tried and true, constitutionally sound institutions.
Read the statement in its entirety, HERE (.pdf)
Leave it to the satirists to put it all in perspective. On the Nov. 16 broadcast of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, correspondent Samantha Bee explains that perhaps there is something to fear in relocating the Gitmo prisoners: The Dreaded Media Reaction!
Below clip is the opening segment of the Nov. 16 TDS – exchange between Stewart and Bee is at 5:21/9:58.
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Read more: american judicial system, close gitmo, conservative, dick durbin, enemy combatants, gitmo, guantanamo bay, illinois, mark kirk, obama, obama administration, pat quinn, politics, terrorism, the constitution project, thomson correctional facility
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