Lawmaker adds support to Guantanamo replacement in Illinois

Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., endorsed the controversial proposed maximum-security prison for Illinois, with a snipe at Republican critics and an endorsement of its major job-creation benefits.

"I refuse to be part of the fear factor," Hare said Wednesday. "I prefer that we talk about getting people to work. ... I am afraid of [local home] foreclosure and people leaving the area."

After discussions with Obama administration officials over their plans to move detainees from the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Hare said that the new facility could add $1 billion to the local economy in four years and create more than 3,000 jobs -- including indirect slots for individuals serving the prison. The "once in a lifetime opportunity" could reduce unemployment in nearby areas by as much as half, he said.

The prison is now owned and operated by the state, but it is underutilized because of what Hare called "a miserable job of managing the prisons in this state" by former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and removed from office January following his indictment on federal corruption charges.

Located in the small town of Thomson in Carroll County, the prison would be one county north of Hare's district in the state's northwest corner. Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., whose district includes Thomson, has opposed a federal takeover of the facility because it would house "really, really mean people whose job it is to kill people."

Hare attacked as "a political ploy" the recent criticism of the proposal by Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who is the Republican frontrunner in next year's race for the seat of Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill. In a letter on Sunday, Kirk wrote, "As home to America's tallest building [the Willis Tower in Chicago], we should not invite al-Qaida to make Illinois its number one target."

If Kirk has a better way to get 3,000 jobs for the area, Hare responded, "I would be glad to meet him tomorrow morning."

The Thomson facility has been endorsed by other senior Illinois Democrats, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. But Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean, who represents another adjoining district, opposed the plan, pending "substantial assurances regarding potential security threats."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.