On last night's edition of the Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow was joined by Chicago Sun-Times correspondent Lynn Sweet to discuss the way the Gitmo detainees have got yesterday's "Bring It On" crowd suddenly terrified to death at the prospects that they might be imprisoned and tried the way thousands of dangerous individuals are imprisoned and tried every year.
Congressman Mark Kirk, frantically making hay, has bought the domain name noterroristsinillinois.com as a senatorial campaign tactic, the thinking being that the other magical Gitmo-based supervillains must be kept elsewhere to keep their superpowers at bay. At a press conference, Kirk darkly warned of a "flow" of terrorists streaming through O'Hare airport in order to size up the Sears Tower as a potential target. "They looked at" the Sears Tower "before," Kirk says, apparently unaware that the "before" meant a time when we weren't considering imprisoning these defendants in Illinois. As we noted on these pages yesterday, a number of conservative organizations hit back against this "scaremongering."
Is it all just politics? Well, Chicago Sun-Times correspondent Lynn Sweet bottom-lined this by saying that this is all about "two words: February 2nd." That's the date of the Illinois primary, the zero hour for making the most of this sort of demagoguery. Sweet wasn't of the opinion that the White House has been upfront enough about what sort of Illinois prison facility will be processing these GITMO detainees, so she dispensed some of her own accord.
SWEET: The Bureau of Prisons has mandatory visitations. This is not going to be a Bureau of Prisons facility, it's going to be run by the Defense Department. They'll have the rules -- the White House told me -- no visitors.
Maddow went on to note that there are currently 35 individuals doing time in Illinois based on terrorism charges. Sweet confirmed that up to now, this had never been a political issue. But as Sweet points out, Illinois offers a "perfect storm" of politics: terrorism, Obama's old Senate seat, a GOP candidate looking to catch fire and a locale that calls other shiny stories -- like Rod Blagojevich -- to mind.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more