In an opinion piece published this week on a California news site, Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and his Senate colleague from California Dianne Feinstein called for the terrorist prison in Guantanamo to be shut down.
At the same time, Durbin is pushing forward with Congresswoman Cheryl Bustos (IL-17) for federal funding to upgrade and open the never-fully-used Thomson prison in central Illinois. The prison was purchased by the federal government last year, and while locals fiercely fought Durbin's plan to transfer War on Terror detainees to American soil and their backyards, they welcome the jobs opening Thomson as a federal prison would bring to their high unemployment area.
However, Durbin's opinion is clear indication he plans on moving ahead to shut down Guantanamo and open Thomson's maximum security prison. His and Senator Feinstein's sympathies are clearly with the detainees:
The hopelessness at Guantanamo led detainees to go on a hunger strike this year — more than 100 at its peak. Twice a day, military personnel force-feed them with a tube inserted through their noses. For some detainees, this has been going on for more than five months. This large-scale force-feeding violates international norms and medical ethics.
Military personnel at Guantanamo face challenging conditions but operate with professionalism and dedication. It is not our military that has failed; it is our policymakers.
Efforts by the administration to transfer or prosecute most of the remaining detainees have stalled, while a recalcitrant Congress has stymied even modest attempts to reduce the prison population.
This is unacceptable. The administration must create a program for transfer or trial for those who remain, so Guantanamo can be closed once and for all.