Manzullo: I received 'very, very little notice' about Gitmo transfer plan

The congressman whose district includes an Illinois prison federal officials selected as a potential site to move Guantanamo Bay terror suspects said Tuesday he received "very, very little notice" of the decision.

Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) said that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Illinois Republican congressman, told him of the decision briefly during a visit to his district intended to focus on road projects.

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"I was given very, very little notice that a major effort had been on to physically move the facility from Gitmo Bay to Thompson, Ill.," Manzullo told Dateline: Washington, a conservative talk radio show, today. "This is not closing Gitmo Bay, its moving it."

The Chicago Tribune broke the story on Saturday morning. Under the proposal, the federal government would purchase the little-used but modern Thompson prison from the state and convert it into a super maximum-security facility with a section that would house Gitmo detainees. The facility is 150 miles west of Chicago.

Mazullo said officials from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Defense Department gave him a more in-depth briefing this week on plans for the facility.

Illinois Democratic leaders, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, say the move could create thousands of jobs in an economically struggling area of the state.

But Manzullo and other of Illinois Republicans in Congress deeply oppose the transfer. They counter that the suspected terrorists will present great danger to people in the area by raising the likelihood of a terrorist attack on the area. Republicans have developed a few proposals to prevent the move.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), LaHood's replacement, introduced a bill that would bar federal funds from paying for the transfer to Thompson. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed legislation that would ban the detainees from being sent to the U.S. mainland and today vowed it would be brought to a floor vote.

Manzullo said he would write a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that the penitentiary be used as a super-max facility for conventional prisoners. That way, he said, it would provide the economic benefit to the region without having to move terrorists there.