POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Editorial Boards Slam GOP For Position On Gitmo Detainees

The debate over whether to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum-security facility in Thomson, Illinois, may burn white-hot in Washington D.C. But in the local newspapers within and surrounding the state of the proposed new detention facility, it's barely bubbling.

Over the past few days, at least seven editorial boards have come out in favor of the administration's proposal, noting that it makes logistical sense to use a prison facility that is relatively vacant, could spur job growth in the region and solves the perplexing problem of closing Gitmo within the president's timeframe.

Underlying the newspaper columns, moreover, is thinly-veiled ridicule for Republican lawmakers who have been accused of fear-mongering and demagoguery on the detainee issue. The most common target appears to be Rep. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican running for Senate who has warned that moving terrorist suspects to Thomson would make Chicago (150 miles away) a target for al Qaeda.

Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Neil Steinberg called Kirk's logic "detestable." The St. Louis Post Dispatch, likewise, called it a "sad lack of belief in the ideals of the nation."

Below is a sample of what some of the other editorial boards are saying

Chicago Sun-Times: Neil Steinberg
(November 18, 2009)

Reset your mental landscape to Sept. 10, 2001, and ask yourself: What did New York City do to draw al-Qaida's wrath?

Answer: the same thing we all do. We represent a vastly appealing political and economic system: freedom, liberal democracy and international trade, a culture eagerly embraced by people around the globe. We don't have to throw acid in girls' faces to keep them in line -- they wear Levis and go to school of their own accord -- a claim the Taliban cannot make when promoting its lifestyle.

Now, take this understanding and apply it to the craven letter Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) sent to President Obama demanding that ... well, let his own words indict him:

Peoria Journal-Star Editorial: Giving Thomson a use, at long last
(November 18, 2009)

Pity. This could have been a debate on the advantages and downsides of the proposal, one that used reasoned arguments, backed up with facts. Alas, blame, mudslinging and fear-mongering are usually easier than leaving politics at the water's edge, where they belong in foreign affairs and national security.

State Journal-Register - Springfield, Illinois: Hysteria over Thomson idea way off base
(November 18, 2009)

In politics, we expect a certain amount of hyperbole. What we have heard in opposition to using the Thomson Correctional Center to house Guantanamo terror suspects, however, amounts to unadulterated hysteria.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: Scare mongering about trials, prison is cynical partisanship
(November 17, 2009)

Why did [Senator Kit] Bond coarsely disparage our system of justice, using scare tactics to score partisan points? Why have the others used defeatism and fear-mongering to argue that holding terror suspects on American soil puts the nation at risk -- even though our country successfully has held convicted terrorists in prison for years?

[snip]

U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk and Aaron Schock, both Republicans representing northern Illinois districts, however, warned that housing the Guantanamo detainees at the Thomson prison would mark the region as a new "ground zero" for terrorist activity.

This, too, is fear-mongering, not leadership. It reflects a sad lack of belief in the ideals of the nation.

Chicago Tribune: Gitmo, Illinois
(November 17, 2009)

[W]hen Republicans heard that the Obama administration is looking at buying the largely vacant Thomson Correctional Facility to house some detainees now held at Guantanamo (as well as ordinary maximum security prisoners), they reacted as though Osama bin Laden had been given the keys to a missile silo.

Rockford Register Star: It makes sense for Thomson to house Gitmo prisoners
(November 16, 2009)

We can't say in good conscience we enthusiastically support the plan. Who would be happy about hanging up the welcome flag to the likes of al-Qaida?

However, we know the necessity of moving the prisoners from Gitmo. We know the political reality facing the president, who promised he would close the facility by the end of the year.

And we know the Thomson Correctional Center is, at present, a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.

Chicago Sun Times: Don't let fear decide fate of Gitmo inmates
(November 17, 2009)

America's federal prisons are full of people who scare the hell out of us -- mob hit men, mass murderers and international terrorists.

We do not quake in fear. We do not shelve our values. We do not cheap out on due process -- a fair day in court for even the worst human beings, homegrown or foreign.

No terrorist can defeat us. But we can defeat ourselves if, in our fear, we compromise on the principles that have made this nation great.

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