The Quad-Cities’ two congressmen were noncommittal about the prospect of moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Thomson Correctional Center in Carroll County, Ill.
An Obama administration official said Saturday the prison is a “leading contender” for a “limited number” of prisoners. If it happens, the federal Bureau of Prisons would purchase the facility and run it primarily as a federal prison. The part containing the Guantanamo Bay detainees would be leased to the Defense Department, the official said.
Thomson is about 50 miles from the Quad-Cities.
U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., issued a statement that balanced the need for economic development in the area with safety concerns.
“As the federal government and the state of Illinois considers expanding the role of Thomson Correctional Facility, they must first and foremost guarantee the safety and security of those who live in the surrounding area,” he said. “The prospects of thousands of additional good-paying jobs and much-needed revenue for our state are factors we should consider, but safety must be the primary consideration.”
He said he anticipated being briefed early this week and hearing from the public.
Rich Carter, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, a Republican who is opposed to the move, said some members had been briefed Friday on the matter.
Tim Schlittner, Hare’s spokesman, said he had not been briefed.
The prison is in Illinois, but it also is directly across the Mississippi River from Clinton County, part of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.
“While this decision has the potential to have a tremendous economic impact on the area, it is critical that we do not rush into bringing these suspected terrorists to the Quad-Cities,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who added he supports closing Guantanamo Bay.
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He said a thorough analysis of the situation is needed “to ensure the safety and security of Iowa’s families.”
Congressional reaction to moving the prisoners will be a key factor in whether it can happen. Last month, Congress passed a law that approved moving prisoners to the United States, but only for the purposes of prosecution.
Carter said there also may need to be Illinois legislative action to approve a move, too.