Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Opening Gitmo North Might Take A While

The Obama administration's plan to buy an Illinois state prison and re-fit it for holding Gitmo's detainees has hit a couple of unexpected snags, according to the New York Times (Plan to Move Guantánamo Detainees Faces New Delay):

[I]n interviews this week, officials estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades before any transfers take place. Such construction cannot begin until the federal government buys the prison from the State of Illinois.

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.

But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.

So, the administration doesn't have the money to buy the place, lacks political support for getting any more, and, if and when they do buy this civilian prison, will then have to spend the better part of a year making it compliant with military requirements before the first detainee can be moved there.

I've got to wonder whether any of the big brains in the administration are thinking about calling the whole thing off.

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