Obama Bets Gitmo Can Play (Near) Peoria

White House plans to ship 100 detainees to American heartland

By Caitlin Millat
|  Wednesday, Dec 16, 2009  |  Updated 4:00 AM PDT
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Michelle Obama: First Lady in Action

The Obama administration announced Tuesday its plans to move some 100 detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the American heartland.

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The Obama administration plans to move some 100 detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the American heartland, plunking the terror suspects in rural Thomson, Ill.

The move is expected to help Obama close Guantanamo Bay for good and be a financial boon to the struggling town of Thomson -- but detractors say bringing Gitmo to America is just downright dangerous.

  • Bringing detainees to U.S. soil could mean an economic reinvigoration in rural Illinois with support from the local community and help shut Gitmo down, Steve Benen writes on the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog. "This is a welcome, important step toward closing the detention facility at Gitmo once and for all," Benen writes.
     
  • David Cole seconded Benen's support for the move in his New York Times blog, but wrote that Obama's attempt to close Gitmo for good is nothing but empty symbolism unless it's accompanied by "substantive reform" of other detention policies -- particularly who the government detains and how prisoners are held in the new facility.
     
  • "The creation of a 'Gitmo North' in Illinois is hardly a meaningful step forward," griped Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Shutting down Guantánamo will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we continue its lawless policies onshore."
     
  • Conservative blogger Andy McCarthy wrote on the National Review's The Corner that bringing Gitmo to the States is a slippery slope to a terrorist free-for-all in Thomson, calling the move an "outrage" that will "inevitably result in trained terrorists being released in the United States -- bank on it."
     
  • Debra Burlingame at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog had a similarly apocalyptic outlook, warning Americans this is Obama's way of bringing "enemy combatants captured on the battlefield" onto peaceful American soil. Burlingame's outlook: "We will live to regret this."

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