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Tilting at Windmills

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November 16, 2009

LEADING CONSERVATIVES: 'THE SCAREMONGERING ABOUT THESE ISSUES SHOULD STOP'.... After months of debate, it appears officials are close to selecting a domestic facility for relocating detainees from Guantanamo Bay. From a purely political perspective, what's especially interesting about this is the endorsements the idea has received.

The facility in question is a near-empty prison in rural Illinois, in a town called Thomson. The federal government is reportedly eyeing the facility as "a leading option" to resolve the Gitmo issue.

Local residents, in desperate need of an economic boost, like the idea. So does Illinois' governor and senior senator. And oddly enough, some prominent conservative leaders are on board, too.

Republicans in Congress are gearing up to fight a new White House effort to relocate detainees at Guantanamo Bay to a prison facility in Illinois. But on Sunday, a group of highly respected conservative figures lent their support to the transfer, calling it necessary to "preserve national security" while simultaneously avoiding "sweeping and radical departures from an American constitutional tradition."

In a joint statement prepared by the Constitution Project, David Keene, founder of American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and former representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr say moving suspected terrorists to the Thomson, Illinois prison facility, "makes good sense." Taxpayers, they note, have already invested $145 million in the facility, which has been "little used." And the surrounding community, they add, could benefit from increased employment once the prison becomes filled.

"The scaremongering about these issues should stop," they add, noting that there is "absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities."

This is not to say the plan won't still face resistance. Republican Illinois Reps. Donald Manzullo and Mark Kirk have already voiced their strong opposition to the idea, for a variety of painfully inane reasons. My personal favorite from Kirk: Chicago would become "ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots." (Kirk's Senate campaign has turned him into something of an embarrassment.)

That said, the combination of support from the administration, Dick Durbin, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), local residents, and conservative leaders like Keene and Norquist makes the plan appear more likely to come together.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

"the scaremongering about these issues should stop" could be the lead on almost any story that you write about the republicans today.

Posted by: just bill on November 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Grover Norquist at war with his party?

This is all too weird.

Posted by: inkadu on November 16, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

a very limited number of republicans emerged from the bush years with enhanced reputations.

bob barr was one of them.

Posted by: howard on November 16, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

But on Sunday, a group of highly respected conservative figures lent their support to the transfer. . .

What exactly qualifies one to be a "highly respected conservative figure" these days? Being wrong about everything, all the time?

Posted by: Gaia on November 16, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Does Grover Norquist have a financial stake in this prison or services provided there? Just sayin'

Posted by: KevinMc on November 16, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with KevinMc -- having Norquist come out in favor of this makes me wonder what's wrong with the plan. At a minimum, it's going to steer money directly into his pocket.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on November 16, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Gaia: What exactly qualifies one to be a "highly respected conservative figure" these days? Being wrong about everything, all the time?

For at least 12 years, yes.

Posted by: inkadu on November 16, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

If Rush and Palin come out against this idea, you can look forward to Norquist and Keene being expelled from the party. They will be branded as "liberals" for advocating a policy that will result in Osama Bin Laden moving in next door to YOU!

It's interesting watching the TeaBag movement completely destroy the right in its search for purity.

Posted by: Domage on November 16, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

The republican mantra since 9/11/2001 has been "The only thing we have to fear is the loss of fear itself!"

Other than fear and hate and paranoia, what does the rethugnican party stand for?

Well, other than tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate cronyism and corporate wellfare.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on November 16, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hey we have a new supermax prison in Colorado that is basically empty that we have to staff to keep the physical plant from decaying (heat, to keep the pipes from freezing, electricity to keep lights on, etc.) We are looking for someone to put some bad guys in there.

Posted by: richard wang on November 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Chicago would become "ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots."
Well, since they always say that Obama is a terrorist, in their minds it already is.
I also like how quickly they dropped their talking point about how if Obama wants the detainees in the US, he should put them in his home state. He said: yup, no problem.

Posted by: SP on November 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

This looks like the first, tentative effort of some of the so-called 'Adults' in the conservative movement to dial back the loons. They'll need to draw some sort of line on what's acceptable or the GOP is doomed as a national force, and this looks to me to be the safest place for them to start.

Posted by: BillFromPA on November 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

These are the more "libertarian" members of the Republican coalition. Many of them had a hard time with Dick Cheney's parallel government running around arresting and detaining "terrorists" at will.

The Bush years put "libertarians" in the coalition to the test. If you don't defend the sanctity of habeas corpus and the right to a trial against arbitrary executive power you aren't much of champion for free men (to use the old word) in a free society. From their liberty rhetoric would expect these great defenders to exercise their second amendment rights in an open rebellion, or at least gone on hunger strikes. But few of them even peeped. Turns out the glory of libertarian liberty begins and ends with free economic foxes in free economic hen houses. Well, in truth, most self-professed libertarians are even worse. They are just leave-me-alone folks. Which is just as bad as pacifism when the executive on his own prerogative is throwing you in jail and torturing you when you get there.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

See this page for info on the nice, new, empty, expensive, maximum security prison that the repiglicans absolutely HAD to build when they were in power, but that is now just a big money sink.

http://www.kcfr.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=94&Itemid=234&target_pg=com_search

Plus there is that empty prison in Hardin, ND, although it is not a maximum security prison.

Posted by: richard wang on November 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody check the thermometers in Hell!!! It must be about 50-below down there, if Grover Norquist has finally taken a sane position on a political issue.

A stopped clock is right twice a day - I wonder what the other one will be?

Posted by: TCinLA on November 16, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Note that one of Grover Norquist's few virtues is that he opposes bigotry and discrimination against Arabs and Muslims. His wife was born in Kuwait.

Posted by: DaveMB on November 16, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK
richard wang@12:14: Hey we have a new supermax prison in Colorado that is basically empty that we have to staff to keep the physical plant from decaying (heat, to keep the pipes from freezing, electricity to keep lights on, etc.) We are looking for someone to put some bad guys in there.

Look... the Prison Industrial Complex herself just popped in to say "hello".

Posted by: JTK on November 16, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Chicago would become 'ground zero for jihadist terrorist plots.'"

bill ayers hasn't blown the haymarket statue off its pedestal since the cpd moved it into police headquarters, so lay off.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 16, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

As a former NYC resident (and I still live nearby), I have no problem whatsoever with terrorists being tried in the city. The city will be a target for terrorism whether we try the terrorists there or not. NYC is where the best and brightest criminal attorneys go to get experience and where the best and brightest stay after they got their experience.

Rudy Giuliani used to be a federal prosecutor and while I wouldn't rank him as one of our best, he was determined and managed to nail Gotti. He had no problem trying KSM in NYC, who was ultimately convicted. Rudy is now kissing the collective asses of HanniPalin. And Rush too.

As an aside and in the interests of matching needs with wants. We need to clear out Gitmo. We really ought to give it back to Cuba. There is an empty high tech prison in Montana or some other state with miles and miles of nothingness surrounding it. Send them there.

Posted by: coltergeist on November 16, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

"The scaremongering about these issues should stop,"
Its distracting from his normal scaremongering on tax issues, so Grover wants it stopped!

Honestly, why should anyone take anything Republicans say seriously. They are all a bunch of clowns. Grover's starting to realize that the American people are onto their bullshit and once that takes hold Repugs are screwed.

Posted by: Henk on November 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

When did Americans become such wusses? In WWII we had German and Italian prisoners living among us (not to mention our having interned large numbers of our own citizens) and I'm sorry, but Nazis were a whole lot scarier than Islamists are.

At the gym this morning I saw some woman bewailing this move because her brother, a prison guard got jumped by some radical Islamists in prison. It was Fox, natch -- and I don't have the whole story because I was just watching and reading the crawl while listening to John Hiatt on my ipod. But sheesh, my cousin is a prison guard and he knows that whoever the prisoners are he is at risk. Many of his friends have been jumped by gang members in prison and, indeed, one of the reason his benefits here in CA are so good is that he and his union have managed to convince everyone they are at risk during every moment they are on duty. So what would change if the prisoners were Al Quaeda? Absolutely nothing.

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