Gitmo Detainee Prison Transfer

Title: Lawmakers Claim Administration Opening Door To Gitmo Transfer With Illinois Prison Buy
October 2, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: The Obama administration plans to buy an Illinois prison that at one point was considered for housing Guantanamo prisoners -- with Republican lawmakers now claiming the purchase would open the door for ultimately carrying out the Guantanamo transfer.

Administration officials, though, denied that they were looking for a new home for Guantanamo inmates. They insisted the decision to buy Thomson Correctional Center, an under-used state prison 150 miles west of Chicago, was a move to alleviate overcrowding and create jobs in the process. 

"This is about public safety and 50 percent overcrowding in high-security prisons," one Justice Department official said. 

Officials insisted Guantanamo detainees would not be coming to Illinois. 

But Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, among the lawmakers who opposed the federal purchase of the prison, claimed Tuesday that the Obama administration could still carry out its plan -- perhaps by moving prisoners from another federal prison to Thomson, and then using that prison to house Guantanamo detainees. 

"The president says his goal is to shut down Guantanamo Bay and move the prisoners here," Wolf told Fox News, accusing the administration of circumventing Congress. "This gives him a great opportunity to do it, particularly right after the election." 

Wolf chairs a key House subcommittee overseeing the sale. He was referring to Obama's pledge immediately after taking office that he would shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp -- a pledge that stands as one of the president's most glaring unfulfilled promises to his base. 

The move to transfer prisoners stateside, though, was met with a fierce backlash among some lawmakers, who worried it would pose a security risk. 

The Obama administration and Federal Bureau of Prisons is now going ahead with the $165 million purchase of the Illinois prison, strictly as a move to ease overcrowding, they say. The move was first announced by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn. 

"This historic action will lead to the creation of hundreds of construction jobs and over 1,000 permanent jobs at this federal facility," Durbin said in a statement. "After facing a political standoff in the House of Representatives, I went directly to the president and asked him to take this action." 

Quinn called it "excellent news." 

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., warned his committee would oppose the purchase. 

"The Obama administration has been trying for years to open Thompson prison in order to transfer terrorists from Guantanamo Bay onto U.S. soil," Rogers said. "This back-door move by the Obama administration to open Thompson and reject the will of Congress and the American people is dangerously irresponsible and will be met with the full and unfettered opposition of the Appropriations Committee."

Thomson was built in 2001, but budget troubles kept it from fully opening (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Feinstein Commissions Report On Housing Gitmo Detainees In US, Calls It Viable Option
November 28, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee commissioned a federal report to identify prison facilities in the U.S. that are suitable for housing Guantanamo detainees, concluding the option is viable -- despite congressional opposition to such a plan when the Obama administration proposed it.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's renewed interest in the proposal first came to light Wednesday after Fox News turned up an internal Government Accountability Office document that refers to “Source of Work: Ms. Dianne Feinstein, Chair, Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate” and lists the “Gist of Work” as an investigation into whether domestic facilities could house the approximately 170 detainees remaining at the controversial facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Two hours after Fox News' inquiry about the report, Feinstein's office posted the report online and released a statement confirming that the California senator thinks the Obama administration's controversial plan to relocate detainees to the United States is a viable option.

“This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security,” Feinstein said. “The GAO report makes clear that numerous prisons exist inside the United States -- operated by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice—capable of holding the 166 detainees who remain at Guantanamo in an environment that meets the security requirements.”

Past discussion of moving the detainees stateside sparked a firewall of bipartisan opposition in Congress, which passed a measure barring that move.

The internal GAO document reviewed by Fox News noted the president’s executive order of January 2009, in which he promised to close the detention camps there within a year, and it referenced “legal prohibitions” that currently bar the transfer of detainees to the U.S. But the document also stated that Congress has continued to raise questions about whether civilian or military facilities in the United Sates could house the men.

“To address this, GAO is providing information on the current characteristic of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, as well as descriptions of existing DOD (Defense Department), Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security correctional and detention facilities," it says.

The GAO's report on the facilities, which was completed Nov. 14, included four objectives: an analysis of the current Guantanamo Bay detention camps, examination of the extent Defense Department and civilian facilities could be used, an outline of how the Justice and Homeland Security departments manage individuals who “engage in terrorist-related activities” and an overview of the challenges of housing detainees in the U.S.

Congressional sources tell Fox News that Feinstein, a California Democrat, placed a 30-day hold on the report, which has the effect of limiting access to the report’s findings until its public release. Until that time, sources say, Feinstein can share the findings with whom she chooses. However her office disputed that characterization, saying that it is standard for the GAO to delay public release of one of its reports until after the requestor has reviewed it. 

Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, who heads the powerful subcommittee on appropriations overseeing the Justice Department, said he thinks the department's acquisition last year of a prison in Illinois was “unprecedented in its violations of longstanding executive-legislative branch protocol."

It "could be the first step in transferring the world’s most dangerous terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S.,” Wolf said.

“Senator Feinstein’s request for this GAO report raises even more suspicion about plans by the Obama administration to transfer Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons, and even more troubling is the fact that the report’s findings were kept secret from the Congress and the American public,” Wolf said (Fox News, 2012).