The first White House maneuver took place in October, while much of the public and the media were preoccupied with election news. On Oct. 2, Obama’s cash-strapped Illinois pals announced that the federal government bought out the Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois for $165 million. According to Watchdog.org, a recent appraisal put the value of the facility at $220 million.
Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin led the lobbying campaign for the deal, along with Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is overseeing an overall $43 billion state budget deficit and scraping for every available penny.
The Thomson campus has been an empty Taj Mahal for more than a decade because profligate state officials had no money for operations. Economic development gurus (using the same phony math of federal stimulus peddlers) claim the newly federalized project will bring in $1 billion.
Durbin told a local Illinois paper that “the decision to move ahead came directly from President Barack Obama” and that he had secured the green light during a discussion on Air Force One earlier in the spring. But this gift to Obama’s Illinois homeboys wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill campaign favor.
Obama’s unilateral and unprecedented decision steamrolled over bipartisan congressional opposition to the purchase. That opposition dates back to 2009, when the White House first floated the idea of using Thomson to house jihadi enemy combatants detained in Cuba.
As you may recall, the scheme caused a national uproar. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department’s budget, blocked the administration from using unspent DOJ funds for the deal. With bipartisan support, Congress passed a law barring the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Thomson or any other civilian prison.
The message was clear: Taxpayers don’t want manipulative Gitmo detainees or their three-ring circuses of transnationalist sympathizers and left-wing lawyers on American soil. Period.
But when this imperial presidency can’t get its way in the court of public opinion, it simply circumvents the deliberative process.
As Wolf noted: The shady deal “directly violates the clear objection of the House Appropriations Committee and goes against the bipartisan objections of members in the House and Senate, who have noted that approving this request would allow Thomson to take precedence over previously funded prisons in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire.”
Obama and his Illinois gang insist that Thomson will not become Gitmo North. But denial is more than a river in the Muslim Brotherhood’s homeland.
The 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, which spearheaded the movement against shipping jihadi detainees to the mainland, exposed the fine print of the Obama DOJ’s deal with the state of Illinois. The purpose of the Thomson facility acquisition, according to the DOJ notice filed in the D.C. courts, included this clause:
“... as well as to provide humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions.”
Guess whom that covers? Yup: Gitmo detainees, who are being held under the 2001 congressional act known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Now, bear all this in mind as you consider the second and more recent Gitmo gambit. On Wednesday, in response to a whistleblowing report from Fox News homeland security reporter Catherine Herridge, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), released a General Accounting Office report exploring the feasibility of transferring the Gitmo gang to civilian prisons.
Lo and behold, Feinstein concluded, the report “demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security.”
The “political will” does not exist now, nor has it ever.
But thanks to Obama’s sneaky, back-door misappropriation of government funds to buy Thomson, the feds have exactly what they need to fulfill the progressive-in-chief’s Gitmo closure promise: a shiny, turnkey palace in crony land tailor-made for union workers, lawyers and terror plotters to call their new home.
When the War on Terror meets the Chicago Way, we all pay.
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010).