President Obama has directed the federal government to buy the near-empty state prison in rural Thomson, Ill., to house federal inmates and up to 100 detainees from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials said late Monday.
The official announcement is planned for Tuesday and follows weeks of consideration of the Thomson Correctional Center as the most secure site in the federal prison system.
The decision is part of a complicated plan for shutting down the controversial Guantanamo detention center, a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment around the world as a result of detainee abuses there during the previous administration.
Obama ordered the shutdown of the detention center as one of his first acts after inauguration last January.
But actually closing it has proven a cumbersome matter, largely because of the difficulty of finding other places to put the suspected terrorists.
Illinois and local officials suggested the near-vacant Thomson prison, which was started in the 1990s and completed in 2001.
Under a plan officials will unveil in the coming days, the administration plans to send some of the detainees to their home countries and others to third countries, some of which operate rehabilitation programs for suspected terrorists.
The Thomson prison could house between 35 and 90 of the Guantanamo detainees, said one source familiar with the discussions.
Toward that end, Obama has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson prison center, an administration official said late Monday. The official said the prison would be used to house federal inmates as well as "a limited number of detainees" from Guantanamo Bay.
You did say you wanted meaningful jobs created in this dismal economy didn't you? Those jobs are coming to Illinois. It appears that some industries are recession-proof.