At 3 pm ET, today at the White House, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will be briefed on the plans to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois by National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James "Hoss” Cartwright, USMC, and possibly Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The brief, I am told, will be brief.
Then the crew will come out to the White House stakeout cameras to announce the deal and take a few questions.
There has been some preparation for today’s announcement.
Last month, for instance, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers looked at potential job creation in Thomson, Illinois, if the correctional center there becomes the new home of Gitmo detainees.
Over the first four years, the CEA assessment states, the facility would create 840 – 910 temporary jobs and 3,180 – 3,880 ongoing jobs, increasing local earnings by a cumulative $793 to $1,015 million.
"Approximately 80% of all of the jobs created by the facility will be held by people residing in Illinois, while people in Iowa will fill the remaining jobs," the study states. "These jobs could reduce the unemployment rate in Carroll County, Illinois, where Thomson is located, by 2 to 4 percentage points."
The report prompted one skeptic — Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky — to say sarcastically that the estimate is from the CEA, "the same crowd who nailed the projection that the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate under 8 percent. I’m sure it will be right on target."
The Gitmo detainees transferred to Illinois, I'm told, would NOT be the ones tried in civilian courts. They would be the ones tried by military tribunal, the candidates for indefinite detention, and those set to be transferred to other countries. The detainees to be tried in civilian courts would be imprisoned in the jurisdictions in which they will be tried, e.g, Southern District of New York.
There are currently dozens of prisoners in US maximum security facilities who have been convicted of terrorism-related charges, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, Theodore Kaczynski, Terry Nichols, Ramzi Yousef, Ahmed Ressam, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, and Wadih el-Hage.
That said, in May FBI Director Robert Mueller said putting Gitmo detainees in U.S. prisons could be dangerous.
"There is a potential for radicalization in a number of ways, whether it be for gang activity, for terrorist groups, for other extremists," he said.
So we'll have to see what Mueller says about this move. So far: no comment from the FBI.