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Gitmo in Illinois minus the Gitmo part

The Chicago Tribune’s Christi Parsons reports that the Justice Dept. will buy a correctional facility in Thomson, Illinois even if Congress continues to block funding to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to Illinois. Turning the Thomson facility into a federal prison while sidestepping possible hysteria over housing terrorist suspects would appear to be a win-win for Illinois. The original “Guantanamo in Illinois” plan, pushed by the Obama administration and Illinois Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin, assumed that most of the prison would be run by the Justice Dept. Bureau of Prisons and a small part would be a terrorist detention camp run by the Dept. of Defense. However, Congress — the Senate, the full House, the House Armed Services Committee, Democrats, Republicans — have repeatedly refused to fund the transfer of detainees to U.S soil.

A federal prison, though, would provide just as much local economic stimulus to Illinois as a  prison plus detention facility. “If the facility is run entirely by the Bureau of Prisons,” Parsons writes, “administration officials say all of the jobs would be local ones.”

President Obama still has to figure out how to keep his promise to close Guantanamo, but DOJ’s prison purchase will at least placate the Illinois Congressional delegation.

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