Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley toured the Illinois prison Monday that’s being talked about as a leading candidate to house terror detainees being transferred from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, took a tour of the Thomson, Illinois, Correctional Center with federal prison and defense officials.
Braley says the facility, which is about 12 miles from Clinton, provides the highest security to house detainees and an economic analysis shows it could give a one-billion dollar economic impact over the next four years. Braley says that means people would come in and buy houses, rent apartments, buy food and groceries, and because Clinton is the largest community in the area there’s a very good possibility there would be a “substantial economic impact.”
Braley says he was satisfied with the answers he received Monday from federal officials on the prison, but adds it’s still early in the process. “Everyone needs to take a deep breath, listen to what the plan is, make sure there is plenty of opportunity for public input not just on the Illinois side of the river, but also on the Iowa side in my district, so people have chance to have their concerns addressed and to weigh in on their concerns about this proposed facility being opened up,” Braley says.
Braley is also dismissing criticism from one of his colleagues in the Iowa delegation. Republican Steve King says Braley, quote,” knows there is no rational or legal reason to bring terrorists to American soil.” Braley says King hasn’t visited the facility or talked with officials, so it’s hard to take his comments seriously.
Braley says: “I also don’t think that Steve King is aware apparently, because he wasn’t at the briefing, that we already hold 400 international people in our prison system, our federal prison system, including some who participated in the first bombing attempt at the World Trade Center, those who participated in the bombing of our embassies in Kenya, and some of them are housed in federal prison right now in Marion.” Braley made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “The Exchange.”
Another member of the Iowa delegation is also weighing in on the prison issue Iowa Congressman Tom Latham, a republican from Ames, sent out a news release that he will introduce legislation this week to “block the transfer of dangerous Guantanamo Bay terrorist-detainees to Iowa and 10 other Midwestern states.” Latham intends to formally introduce the legislation, titled the “Keep Terrorists Out of the Midwest Act,” on Thursday. Here is more of his statement:
“I have heard from so many Iowans over the past few days who are rightfully concerned about the proposed relocation of Guantanamo Bay terrorist-detainees to our backyard,” Congressman Latham said. “They’re asking how bringing dangerous terrorists to U.S. soil will make our country safer. Iowa families deserve to have their voices heard in this important debate. Most importantly, Iowa families deserve the guarantee of the federal government that some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, many of whom helped plan the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, will not be housed or tried just minutes from the neighborhoods where they live and work.”
Latham has sent a personal letter to each of his colleagues in the 11 states affected by the legislation to invite them to join him in taking the lead on protecting their constituents as original co-sponsors of the legislation.