ABC News’ Karen Travers and Z. Byron Wolf report:
A leaked memo posted online today says the Obama administration is planning to transfer suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to an Illinois prison, but an administration official said tonight that the document was only a draft.
The memo, which first appeared on the Web site biggovernment.com, lays out instructions for the Department of Defense and Department of Justice for the transfer of detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center (TCC), a prison complex 150 miles from Chicago.
An Obama administration official did not dispute the legitimacy of the memo but emphasized it is only a draft.
"This is a draft, predecisional document that lawyers at various agencies were drafting in preparation for a potential future announcement about where to house GTMO detainees,” the administration official said. “Drafts of official documents are often prepared for any and all possibilities, regardless of whether a decision has been made about the policy or if the document will be used."
The memo, which is dated Dec. 10, directs the Secretary of Defense to "relocate detainees currently held at the Guantanamo Detention Facility to the TCC as expeditiously as possible."
The memo tasks the attorney general to "as expeditiously as possible acquire and activate the TCC as a United States Penitentiary, which the Attorney General has determined would alleviate the Bureau of Prisons' shortage of maximum security cell space and could be used for other appropriate purposes."
Thomson Correctional Center has emerged as the leading contender to house detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The leaked memo was met with approval by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn, both Democrats, even as they acknowledged that the decision is not yet final.
“As we have said many times, this move will have an enormous impact on our state – potentially generating up to 3,800 jobs and potentially injecting more than $1 billion into the regional economy,” the two said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to dramatically reduce unemployment, create thousands of good-paying jobs and breathe new economic life into this part of downstate Illinois.”
-Karen Travers and Z. Byron Wolf