By John Folz-Donahue
FREEPORT (WREX)- Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16th district) has held the position all along. Now with what Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) calls a "unique alignment of forces" Manzullo has help making Thomson Prison a federal penitentiary without the Guantanamo Bay detainees that are in the Obama Administration's original plans for the facility.
Manzullo and Kirk are now joined by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who earlier this month also urged the President to drop moving detainees as condition for the sale.
"We sent a letter to him along with Senator Kirk and other members of the Illinois delegation," explained Manzullo. "Congress has spoken at least seven times, 85% of the members of Congress do not want GITMO closed and the terrorists moved to the United States, will you please back off, stand down on your policy?"
At a Town Hall meeting Wednesday night at Highland Community College, both Kirk and Manzullo, who toured the Thomson facility earlier in the day, say buying the prison and using it to house maximum security prisoners from the U.S. would be a win for both the Bureau of Prisons because purchasing an existing facility is half the price of building one, and the Community of Thomson since at full capacity the prison could bring as many as 1,000 jobs.
Before Congress acts however, Manzullo needs a commitment from the Executive Branch. "Congress needs absolute assurance GITMO wont be closed," he said.