By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 15, 2009 - President Barack Obama's administration plans to transfer a limited number of detainees held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a prison in rural western Illinois, senior administration officials said here today. The federal government plans to acquire Thomson Correctional Center, a 10-year-old maximum security prison in Thomson, Ill., a farming community about 150 miles west of Chicago, officials said in a background briefing.
The administration would need to work with Congress to amend the law related to the pending transfer and to seek necessary funding, officials said.
Some of the detainees affected by the transfer will be tried under the military commission process at the prison. Five detainees held at Guantanamo, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are slated to be transferred to New York for trial in a civilian court.
Obama announced shortly after taking office that he would close the Guantanamo facility, citing its use as a terrorist recruiting tool.
Upgrades to Thomson, a maximum-security prison currently underused due to Illinois state budget woes, will include additional perimeter security, officials said.
More than 200 detainees are being housed at the Guantanamo facility, which was opened shortly after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.