The Obama administration announced plans Tuesday to buy an Illinois state prison that was considered a potential destination for Guantanamo prisoners.
Administration officials attribute the $165 million acquisition of Thomson Correctional Center to overcrowding in high-security federal prisons, but some lawmakers believe the move is a pretense for the original Gitmo plan, Fox News reports:
But Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, among the lawmakers who opposed the federal purchase of the prison, claimed Tuesday that the Obama administration could still carry out its plan — perhaps by moving prisoners from another federal prison to Thomson, and then using that prison to house Guantanamo detainees.
"The president says his goal is to shut down Guantanamo Bay and move the prisoners here," Wolf told Fox News, accusing the administration of circumventing Congress. "This gives him a great opportunity to do it, particularly right after the election."
9/11 Families For A Safe & Strong America, an advocacy group lead by Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles "Chic" Burlingame, pilot of American Airlines flight 77 sharply criticized the administration's plan in a statement released Tuesday.
"As stated in our July 27 letter, signed by more than 100 family members, to House Speaker John Boehner, 9/11 families believe this purchase is a back door effort to circumvent Congress and the will of the American people," the statement reads. "Though Senator Dick Durbin and Attorney General Eric Holder have denied that the prison would be retrofitted to receive Guantanamo detainees, this would not be the first time the Department of Justice defied Congress in an effort to bring terrorists inside the Homeland."
"This misappropriation of funds and flouting of Congressional authority goes to the very heart of the public’s distrust of the Obama administration and the ever-widening gap between what it says and what it does," the statement concludes.