Durbin to host briefing on sending Guantanamo detainees to Illinois

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will host a closed-door briefing with his state’s congressional delegation on Wednesday about sending Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois prison.

Durbin invited his state’s 19 House members and Sen. Roland Burris (D) to the lawmaker-only briefing, according to an e-mail obtained by The Hill.

The briefing was organized to garner information about sending detainees held in Guantanamo to Thomson State Correctional facility in Northwest Illinois.

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The Obama administration is looking at buying the nearly empty Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois to use as a maximum security prison for Guantanamo detainees.

Those invited to the briefing hosted by Durbin were advised that Pentagon and Justice Department officials will be on hand along with Illinois state officials “to discuss the state’s Thomson Correctional Center as a possible site for a new federal maximum security prison which would also house a limited number of Guantanamo Bay detainees,” according to the e-mail.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the first such briefing hosted for all 21 Illinois federal elected officials since word spread two weeks ago of the administration’s interest in transferring Guantanamo inmates to Illinois.

Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn (Ill.) were quick to support the plan under consideration by the administration when officials from the Defense Department and federal Bureau of Prisons toured the facility in mid-November.

GOP lawmakers from Illinois led by Rep. Mark Kirk, who is currently running for the senate seat being vacated by Burris in 2010, howled in protest. Kirk and fellow GOP Illinois Reps. Aaron Schock, Pete Roskam, Tim Johnson, Mark Kirk, John Shimkus, Judy Biggert and Don Manzullo introduced legislation to ban funding the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S.

Durbin and Quinn have maintained that selling off the little-used brand new state prison facility would bring jobs to an area devastated by the economy.