Who's Afraid of Guantánamo Detainees?

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President Obama looks poised to close Guantánamo Bay prison and is now deciding where to send detainees. On Sunday, administration officials said they were considering Thomson Correctional Center, a supermax (highest-security) facility in rural Illinois, as a possibility. This would be a boon to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Illinois Democrats, and Thomson locals who have lobbied to host the prisoners as a means to bring 2,000 jobs to the suffering region. The Illinois State GOP, however, is putting up a fight, arguing that the prison could make Thomson a target for terrorists. Sunday, Republican House members wrote a letter of protest to Obama, warning that the Chicago area could become "ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization."

Liberal pundits are poking fun at Republicans, accusing them of running scared over a non-issue. But if liberals are hoping to goad the GOP into supporting the detainee transfer, the tactic may not be working. So far, they've received scant response from conservatives.

  • Illinois Republicans: Do They Think The Terrorists Have Superpowers?  asks Jay Bookman of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Even as political theater, this strikes me as a loser. The American people do not want leaders who treat them as cowards." Bookman thinks the Republican fears are absurd. "Personally, the most charitable explanation I can think of is that the GOP has gotten al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood confused with the evil Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants," he writes. "They seem to think that Islamic terrorists can melt steel prison bars by staring at them, that they can shape-shift themselves right out of federal Supermax custody."
  • The Republicans Are Embarrassing Themselves  Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly says no terrorist has ever escaped from a supermax prison. "The United States has already tried and convicted literally hundreds of terrorists," he writes. "They're held in federal detention on American soil. The prisons have not become magnets for terrorism; there have been no escapes; there have been no attempted escapes; and there have been no efforts at breaking anyone out of any of the facilities. It's not an academic exercise -- it's reality."
  • Listen to the Locals  Salon's Glenn Greenwald says some on the right "are scared themselves; some are both scared and eager to exploit fear to justify tyrannical policies; and some are being largely exploitative." Greenwald argues that bringing the Gitmo detainees to Thomson is a logical decision. "The town was first considered when its Mayor raised the possibility as a means of bringing more jobs.  The Right could learn a lot about basic 'rationality' and courage by reading the reactions of the residents there."
  • Terrorists for Jobs Is a Bad Deal  Fox's Kevin McCullough thinks voters should be able to decide whether or not they want terrorists coming to their area. And he says the Obama administration could find better, less costly, less dangerous ways to create jobs. "In putting terrorists on the soil of your home state don't you put your residents at greater risk?" he asks.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.