Oops! Obama Administration Forgets Promise Not To Send Gitmo Detainees To Illinois [AUDIO]
Well, this is an interesting turn of events.
Almost three years ago, the Obama administration purchased the nearly-vacant Thomson prison from the state of Illinois for $165 million dollars. At the time, there was much concern over the possibility that detainees being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison would be transferred to Illinois. Why? Well, probably because of an abandoned 2009 Obama plan to house some potential terrorists transferred from Gitmo.
In order to alleviate those concerns, promises were procured in writing and under oath that terror suspects would not be moved to Thomson:
Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter on Tuesday to Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, chairman of a House appropriations subcommittee dealing with Justice Department funding. Wolf fought the move by the federal government to acquire Thomson. Holder said the prison is being purchased to help alleviate severe overcrowding in Bureau of Prisons facilities.
"As I have committed publicly -- and as I now reiterate --Thomson will not be used to house Guantanamo detainees," wrote Holder.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin sent out press releases crowing about the achievement. And look, here's Sen. Durbin getting Attorney General Eric Holder to make that promse under oath:
Having said all this, I'm pretty sure you can guess exactly what the Obama administration made plans to do: transfer some of the remaining 116 detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Thomson.
The Washington Post reports that Holder’s commitment to Sen. Dick Durbin and the people of Illinois was apparently "overlooked" by officials when the most recent plan was drawn up. Officials tell the Post Thomson is no longer being considered and the White House is again looking at other federal facilities:
“Funding for Thomson prison was approved based on the understanding that no detainees from Guantanamo would be held there, and therefore, Thomson is not part of those discussions,” a senior administration official said.
The last-minute dispute is another sign of the many difficulties plaguing the White House’s attempt to make good on Obama’s promise to close the military detention facility before he leaves office in 2017.
Is that true? Can the people of Thomson and Illinois trust the Obama White House not to try to force Guantanamo Bay detainees into the prison? We asked Washington Post reporter Missy Ryan about that and more on the show: