The Obama administration will purchase the Thomson prison in rural western Illinois even if Congress doesn’t approve the president’s plan to lock up terror suspects there, reports the Chicago Tribune. Lawmakers are threatening to halt Obama’s proposal to move terror detainees to the unused state prison, a critical part of his plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Writing to members of the Illinois delegation in Congress, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich reaffirmed the administration’s “commitment to acquiring the facility this year,” and provided details about steps planned for the next few months. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons plans to hire and train employees while other administration officials “work with Congress to obtain authorization and funding for a portion of the Thomson facility,” Weich wrote. President Obama moved to shut down the controversial Guantanamo prison shortly after taking office, saying it had become a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment around the world and thus was a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. Closing the prison has been difficult, however, as members of Congress decline to grant approval for transferring the Guantanamo detainees. The decision to move ahead with the purchase may mean more local jobs for the communities around Thomson, located in western Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River.