Leading conservatives: ‘The scaremongering about these issues should stop’

LEADING CONSERVATIVES: ‘THE SCAREMONGERING ABOUT THESE ISSUES SHOULD STOP’…. After months of debate, it appears officials are close to selecting a domestic facility for relocating detainees from Guantanamo Bay. From a purely political perspective, what’s especially interesting about this is the endorsements the idea has received.

The facility in question is a near-empty prison in rural Illinois, in a town called Thomson. The federal government is reportedly eyeing the facility as “a leading option” to resolve the Gitmo issue.

Local residents, in desperate need of an economic boost, like the idea. So does Illinois’ governor and senior senator. And oddly enough, some prominent conservative leaders are on board, too.

Republicans in Congress are gearing up to fight a new White House effort to relocate detainees at Guantanamo Bay to a prison facility in Illinois. But on Sunday, a group of highly respected conservative figures lent their support to the transfer, calling it necessary to “preserve national security” while simultaneously avoiding “sweeping and radical departures from an American constitutional tradition.”

In a joint statement prepared by the Constitution Project, David Keene, founder of American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and former representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr say moving suspected terrorists to the Thomson, Illinois prison facility, “makes good sense.” Taxpayers, they note, have already invested $145 million in the facility, which has been “little used.” And the surrounding community, they add, could benefit from increased employment once the prison becomes filled.

“The scaremongering about these issues should stop,” they add, noting that there is “absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities.”

This is not to say the plan won’t still face resistance. Republican Illinois Reps. Donald Manzullo and Mark Kirk have already voiced their strong opposition to the idea, for a variety of painfully inane reasons. My personal favorite from Kirk: Chicago would become “ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots.” (Kirk’s Senate campaign has turned him into something of an embarrassment.)

That said, the combination of support from the administration, Dick Durbin, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), local residents, and conservative leaders like Keene and Norquist makes the plan appear more likely to come together.