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Was Quinn’s Gitmo gambit all for naught?

Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

* This revelation would definitely be a kick in the teeth [or help for the fall] to Gov. Pat Quinn, who so eagerly embraced the White House plan to move Gitmo detainees to Illinois…

The second-ranking House Democrat signaled Tuesday that the White House is reconsidering a plan to move Guantanamo detainees to a prison in northwest Illinois.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he agrees that the Obama administration should reassess the plan to move terrorist suspects from the Cuba military base to Thomson Correctional Facility in the state’s northwest corner.

“I think the administration realizes that this is a difficult issue,” Hoyer said, speaking at his weekly meeting with Capitol Hill reporters. “And I think that they are assessing where they are and where they think we ought to be and I think that’s appropriate and I look forward to discussing it with them.”

Congress would have to appropriate such funds, which could prove a stumbling block for the White House plans. Republicans have been largely unified in opposition to the prison move and Democrats such as Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois have joined along.

It’s clear that the Scott Brown election has totally, completely freaked out the DC Dems. Everything is now up in the air. Yesterday, LA Times blogger Johanna Neuman mused: “Could Gitmo topple Democrats in Illinois?

Brown got a lot of traction in Massachusetts suggesting that U.S. tax dollars shouldn’t go to defend terrorist suspects but to protect Americans. Will Gitmo help Kirk too?

…Adding… It should be noted that Obama has the Thomson prison purchase in his budget proposal. They could still buy the prison, which would be a win/win for Quinn - no Gitmo prisoners and money from the feds.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

35 Comments
  1. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:08 pm:

    While I wasn’t too happy with Kirk’s ranting-and-raving about this issue, the point can still be made that a lot of his hysteria is, in reality, not too far from the reaction of most voters.

    This item was added into the President’s FY2011 budget, but there is a lot of time for that mass of dead trees to unravel. It would be much more politically costly than the monetary cost.


  2. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:10 pm:

    Rahm said the feds are buying it no matter what, because they need the space. Gitmo ain’t moving here, but they are going to buy Thomson.


  3. - shore - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:12 pm:

    If there’s one thing this blog has told us its how dumb and incompetent government here is. adding this to the mix. not a great idea.


  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    Obama has been way too accommodating to Congressional Dems. They’ll drag him to defeat if he lets them.

    They’re scared because they
    ONLY have 59 votes in the Senate? How many do you need? Reagan got his entire program passed with 53 GOP Senators and a Dem-controlled House.


  5. - Peggy SO-IL - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:15 pm:

    I think it will be most interesting to see how many voters take a GOP ballot v Dem ballot. I think that could be an indicator of the public’s view of the Dem party this year.


  6. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    The more time that passes, the more Gitmo transfer is likely to become yesterday’s news. Hysterics can only be maintained for so long before they start to look really silly. We can’t keep prisoners locked up? Since when? A group of jihadi terrorists could sneak across northern Illinois? The bluster sounds more idiotic the longer it goes on.

    If the Obama admin prosecutes a couple of terrorists and nothing happens except a conviction, the debate will end, the bill will pass, and the prisoners will come. There are a lot better issues to run on and the Thomson prison issue will quietly fade away unless Mark Kirk becomes desperate.


  7. - Niles Township - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    Reagan got his entire program passed with 53 GOP Senators and a Dem-controlled House.
    ————–

    Obama is not Reagan and Obama’s staff has not shown itself to be on the level of Reagan’s either.


  8. - McVoter - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    - wordslinger… Dems lost there bite, all Chicken little’s now….I wish they grew some…
    Just imagine if the GOP had the same set up???…


  9. - Brennan - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    =Obama has been way too accommodating to Congressional Dems. They’ll drag him to defeat if he lets them.=

    Sean Trende has the right analysis. Obama’s team has completely misread the electorate. What he had to do early to check the Democrats on the Hill was lost by allowing them to author the Stimulus bill.

    Obama has essentially torched his support from districts McCain carried that still elect Democrats to represent them on the federal level.


  10. - Will County Woman - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    i oppose gitmo-thomson, but a federal non-enemy combatant housing prison? no, i do not oppose that. the people of still need to be told and understand that gitmo or no gitmo, they will likely not qualify for any federal bureau of prison jobs.


  11. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:23 pm:

    @word, preach it, I don’t remember any problems passing things when the republicans had 51 votes. Although, you do have to admit, that when you have universal no votes against you, and a filibuster on every bill, things get hard. I think both parties are to blame for the gridlock.


  12. - New Madrid - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:23 pm:

    not looking like the best vote right now for Rep. Myers or Sen. Syverson either…


  13. - cassandra - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:44 pm:

    If Quinn or his successor sells Thomson to the feds, that raises another set of problems. Since Illinois is unlikely to make any serious attempts at prison population reduction for a long, long time given recent events, it’s arguable that the space is needed for Illinois state prisoners. Will we have to build another prison somewhere to
    make way for the feds? That seems dumb–and expensive.

    Another problem…Michael Randle likely has no independent authority after his public chewing-out by Quinn. Why he hasn’t left, I don’t know. Maybe he is job-hunting. In any case, it’s unlikely his input into this matter carries much weight. So who will be making corrections policy
    under Quinn? Some political aide in the back room? That’s not good either.

    The WH could well go ahead and buy the prison
    to save face…it seems extremely unlikely that
    any Guantanamo inmates will be coming anywhere in the US over the next few years. Maybe ever. But is that the best policy for Illinois? It’s not clear at all.


  14. - McVoter - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:45 pm:

    4 hours to go.. are we there Yet???…


  15. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:49 pm:

    Our last, best hope for a balance budget in this state is slipping away . . .


  16. - Mary, Sterling - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:50 pm:

    Great news. Hopes it comes to pass. I don’t think you’ll find many folk against opening Thomson as a Fed prison. Win-win for everybody(except for those in IL who want to keep it open for IL prisoners and those who could meet IDOC job requirements but not tougher Fed requirements). It will be very interesting how this plays out.


  17. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:54 pm:

    I do support the jobs in IL. Perhaps they should call it the NW IL State Governmetn Building. They ould house Carruthers, GHRyan, Blago, etc.


  18. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:58 pm:

    The Gitmo situation was political. There was no reason to undermine a bipartisan solution supported by Obama in 2007 in order to catch a political edge over Clinton during the 2008 primary. It was a dumb idea from the get-go in the real world.

    So Obama has been looking for a real world solution for a make-believe problem and thought he found one in Thomson. The Governor and our Senator should have never fallen for it. They jumped the gun and embraced a package that was speculative. There are so many ways how this Thomson deal could have been derailed from Day One. Quinn banking on it was foolish.

    Reality is wrecking the Thomson plans. The President’s budget isn’t law. It isn’t even followed by his own party. This budget part of the Constitution hasn’t worked in over a century. Obama can promise every American a new house in his budget, (for what he’s proposed, you would have thought he had), but that doesn’t make it happen.

    Kirk and Brown didn’t mess this up. Reality did. How Durbin and Quinn got taken on this is embarrassing. Both of these guys should have hear Obama’s plans for Gitmo and Thomson, nod their heads, then rolled their eyes with a dry chuckle.

    Bone headed all the way.


  19. - Will County Woman - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 2:59 pm:

    Cassandra,

    Recent events have led me to suspect that rep. sacia may be tapped to replace randle or be involved in someway with the quinn administration, should quinn survive tonight and if he thinks he can beat his republican challenger.

    sacia is apparently all-over prison and juvenile justice issues.

    i’m waiting to see if sacia is going to be one of the republicans, quinn has recently claimed to have, on-board to support his tax increase.


  20. - RobRoy - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:00 pm:

    WOW, the national Dems in full retreat. They must have had the bejeebers scared out of them.


  21. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:09 pm:

    With regard to the House, check out Norm Ornstein’s article in the Washington Post this week. Obama has gotten more of his legislative program passed there than LBJ or Ronald Reagan did. Even in the Senate, which has frankly embarrassed itself over its handling of healthcare, Obama has had an impressive success rate. Before people go blithely saying that Obama doesn’t get his way, show some evidence, please.


  22. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:11 pm:

    Mary, the federal GOP will be opposed to any government expansion. This includes the purchase of a dormant prison and the transfer of federal inmates to said dormant prison.

    WCW, that’s great insight. Sacia would be a great DOC director, regardless of who wins the November election. He is a tough-as-nails legislator in a safe GOP district.


  23. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:12 pm:

    RR, I think we just got a bit miffed that the people we elected to do some things cower in fear of the Big Bad Republicans. Bush was awful at most things, but he sure knew how to use the bully pulpit. All you have to do is say people who don’t agree with you hate the troops and they’ll vote for whatever you want.


  24. - unspun - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:15 pm:

    Remember that the purchase of Thomson is not exclusively linked to the future transfer of Gitmo detainees. The Feds are in the market for prison space for maximum security (domestice, non-terrorist) inmates. In fact, only a small portion of the Thomson prison plan is for the purposes of housing “detainees” from Gitmo. The best case scenario (for whomever becomes Governor) is that the Feds purchase the prison, and ONLY place traditional inmates there. The next Governor has an opportunity to “save the day” by taking credit for keeping the detainees out, while still bringing the jobs. I think that this is the deal that will be struck.


  25. - unspun - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:22 pm:

    Sacia has been a steadfast supporter of Corrections. However, his views about Corrections issues are vastly different than Quinn’s….so he’s the perfect candidate!


  26. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:23 pm:

    I am sorry but I think there is too much emphasis being placed on Brown’s win in Massachesetts. There are so many things that could have had an impact on that race rather than an electorate that wanted to spite Obama’s Administration.

    First of all some of the Dem candidate’s own people said she could have done more to get her image and campaign out there. A candidate that makes the comment “did you expect me to stand out in the cold and shake hands?” is headed down the tubes on her own.

    Secondly her opponent ran a pretty decent campaign. He came across as a down to earth guy who drove a pickup truck, very grass roots image.

    Then you have to wonder how much of this was a back lash against the Kennedy Regime. I know he has been elected every time he ran, but lately has a lot of that been due to his machine? And you have to figure that Kennedy was a liberal and Brown is a moderate, and I think the country is tired of the left and right wings and want a centered steady path whith no risks. Obama was elected as a centrist but I think he has been dragged to the liberal side by some of those around him and by some members of congress. As many have said he will do better moving back to the center and working on the things that got him elected. He should not back down on the issues he wants to accomplish. He should continue to work on them with moderates in both parties and wait for the voters to eliminate the radicals until he gets his majority.

    All that being said I think the Republicans are putting all their eggs in a basket that doesn’t exist. Brown is not going to have a legacy of starting a great overturn of Democratic candidates. Instead his election will be seen as the first step of a movement by the voters to get rid of incumbants/incumbant messages and move towards the center irrespective of party affiliations.


  27. - RobRoy - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:31 pm:

    Jimbo, true enough. IMO Thomson is going to get the full stall tactics in DC from the R’s and if Obama is not willing to fight for the ridding of GITMO, the D’s on the hill certainly won’t. So if Quinnster is the candidate, it will hang around his neck like a four day old dead chicken.


  28. - Will County Woman - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    Yellow Dog Democrat has been suggesting that Quinn should have picked Sacia to head IDOC for sometime. so it was YDD who put this in my head.

    SBesdies, interestingly Sacia was one the few, if only, lawmakers on either side of the aisle to praise quinn’s recent State of the State Address. heaping praise on, and defending, a future boss? hmmm…


  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:42 pm:

    Don’t want Gitmo in Illinois? Are we or are we not the heart of the home of the brave? That’s the way you play the issue, Dems.


  30. - KeepSmiling - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    Maybe we should privatize Thomson — with a buy back option. Then the State could make some cash up front, get the maintenance off our hands, rent whatever minimal space we need, and let the owner rent out the remaining capacity to the Feds or even to another state. The asset is in good condition and we clearly don’t have the money or the plan to use it on our own.


  31. - really? - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 4:10 pm:

    no one has mentioned New York now rejecting having the trials there for the terrorists that were at Gitmo. I think this rejection has moved the Dems more than Brown’s win in Massachusetts.
    New York is asking for money, Thomson will cost money…who will get the money? Just sayin’


  32. - midwesterner - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 4:34 pm:

    Referee Daley and an unnamed line judge review the play on the field between Quinn and Hynes. A ruling is expected later.


  33. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 4:46 pm:

    The President’s budget is cutting all funding for Yucca Mountain. We spent billions there ensuring that nuclear waste could be safely contained for 750,000 years. Billions spent over 30 years. It isn’t a hole in a mountain. It is a reinforced steel megatomb that is designed to withstand megaquakes without a single leak. So, what happened?

    What killed it was NIMBY. Nevada’s population boom forced it into everyone’s lives. It was supposed to open in 1998. For the past twelve years we have been paying out fines for not taking nuclear waste. Millions of dollars in fines, instead of using Yucca.

    So, the very idea that a president can single-handedly change a bipartisan supported NIMBY solution and move it to anywhere in the US, was remarkably foolish. Even with a Supermajority in Congress, there was no way this was going to fly.

    So, this really isn’t about today’s Congress, or last month’s special election. It isn’t about the Democrats getting spooked over how badly they are mishandling the GWOT. I see it as a bunch of Kool-Aid drinking optimists who somehow thought that the 2008 election was empowered them to ignor anyone who stood in their way on an issue that had very high NIMBY problems.

    Perhaps the President can store the terrorists in Yucca Mountain? I hear it is available now.


  34. - Peggy SO-IL - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 7:34 pm:

    VM–I didn’t hear the Yucca Mtn closure plan. First, end NASA, now end Yucca. So much for a nuclear power agenda, which Obie claimed in SOTU. A girlfriend of mine in DC has been working on Yucca for years. Yucca needs to move forward–finally. What a mess Obie is. I thought he was pro-science and opposed politicizing it. Always means the opposite of what he says.


  35. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 2, 10 @ 10:02 pm:

    VanMan: The original decision to go with Yucca Mtn was a NIMBY move. Other sites that were being considered in Minn and Tex were dumped in the late 80’s due to NIMBY objections from electorally important states. And that move was exec order stuff by a Republican President (Bush, I think).


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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