Illinois Prison to be the new Gitmo - Announcement expected today
During his first day in office, President Obama signed an executive order to close the controversial prison on Guantanamo Bay.
Throughout this year, efforts have been made to relocate prisoners to third countries. This has not been easy as many allied countries are not keen on accepting prisoners from GITMO that are deemed terrorists by the U.S.
It has been accepted, for some time, that the end of year deadline for closure of Guantanamo would not be met. As this has been one of President Obama's priorities, efforts have been made to find a facility and location within the U.S. for relocation of GITMO prisoners.
Today the Administration is expected to announce that the acquisition of the eight year old Thompson Correctional Center, about 150 miles west of Chicago, Illinois.
The prison which is under utilized will be upgraded to a supermax standard. It is anticipated that the upgrade will take approximately six months.
Congressional approval to hold GITMO prisoners in the U.S. for other than trial purposes will be required.
CHICAGO -- Dozens of terrorism suspects being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be moved to a little-used Illinois state prison that will be acquired and upgraded by the federal government, an Obama administration official said.
The critical step toward fulfilling President Obama's pledge to shut the Guantanamo detention center will be announced Tuesday, said the official, who reported that Obama has ordered the acquisition of the eight-year-old Thomson Correctional Center, about 150 miles northwest of Chicago.
Obama made the move despite the objections of Illinois Republicans, who fear the transfer of prisoners -- some for indefinite detention, some for trial -- could make the state a target for terrorists. Rep. Mark Kirk has called the move "an unnecessary risk."
A letter signed by Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Eric Holder, they inform Governor Pat Quinn of the Federal Governments intention to acquire Thompson Correctional Centre.
They assure the Gov that the Gitmo retainees will held separately from other prisoners and that President Obama has no intention of releasing any of the Gitmo prisoners on U.S. soil, as this is against the law.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he welcomes the decision by the Federal Government. Under the law the Governor of Illinois is the sole authority for selling the prison.
The prison cost $145 in 2011 and Quinn expects to get fair market value for it.
In a letter to Governor Quinn, sent by the U.S. Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security, the federal government has signaled its intention to purchase and operate the prison. (Letter Attached)
They write: “We write to inform you that the President has directed, with our unanimous support, that the Federal Government proceed with the acquisition of the facility in Thomson. Not only will this help address the urgent overcrowding problem at our nation’s Federal prisons, but it will also help achieve our goal of closing the detention center at Guantanamo in a timely, secure, and lawful manner.”
The letter also addresses security concerns that have been raised about transferring Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson facility: “The security of the facility and the surrounding region is our paramount concern. The facility was built in 2001 to maximum security specifications, and after acquisition it will be enhanced to exceed perimeter security standards at the nation’s only “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, where there has never been an escape or external attack . . . The President has no intention of releasing any detainees in the United States. Current law effectively bars the release of the Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil, and the Federal Government has broad authority under current law to detain individuals during removal proceedings and pending the execution of final removal orders.”