Illinois Pols at Odds Over Gitmo Prisoners - NBC Chicago

Illinois Pols at Odds Over Gitmo Prisoners



    Illinois Pols at Odds Over Gitmo Prisoners
    Mark Kirk
    Rep. Mark Kirk is taking full advantage of the Illinois Gitmo debate.

    As Federal officials tour the Thomson Correctional Center, Illinois politicians are arguing its merits.

    Over the weekend Congressman Mark Kirk (R-10th district) released a statement saying "Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization," if they are transferred to the prison. 

    Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate suggested that area landmarks like O'Hare Airport and Willis Tower will become targets for terrorists if their brethren are housed so close.

    But Senator Dick Durbin, who believes that the influx of inmates could create up to 2,000 jobs for the state, calls Kirk's statements unfounded. Thomson was built in 2001, but the prison has been largely vacant since then because of budget problems.

    "Kirk is wrong [about detainees having terrorist visitors]. That is totally false." Durbin said during a press conference Monday, pounding his fists on the podium. "We can do this as a nation and not quiver in fear,"

    Patrick Hughes, another candidate for senate also opposes the move.

    "I am vehemently opposed to bringing enemy combatants, including the Gitmo prisoners, to Illinois and was also opposed the closing of Guantanamo Bay. This is failure of leadership of the Democrats – from the President down to Governor Quinn," Hughes said.

    Hughes pledges to enact legislation that would increase America's national security and stop plans like this one.

    Governor Quinn, for his part, said he is with President Obama 100-percent.

    "Federal prisons are very secure," Quinn said. "I have full faith in Presiden Obama."

    It's no surprise that an Illinois "Gitmo" would become a political flash point. But few are using the controversy as effectively as Kirk.

    Kirk launched a website called which features a letter addressed to the president that he and other Republicans drafted. The site links directly to and is bordered by form asking for campaign contributions.