White House plans to buy prison despite resistance
Despite resistance in Congress to their strategy for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, White House officials said Friday they are moving forward with a plan to buy an unused state prison in northwestern Illinois as a possible location for detainees.
Earlier this week, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted to restrict the Obama administration's ability to build on the prison grounds. The measure would require Obama to get permission from Congress before redesigning the Thomson prison to house detainees like those now held in Guantanamo.
But the move doesn't affect the federal government's ability to buy the prison. The money — $170 million for purchase and $67 million to get it ready — already has been set aside in the next federal budget, and the sale could take place as soon as Oct. 1.
The federal government needs more prison space, whether for former Guantanamo detainees or to house federal inmates, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.
In Chicago, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday it is "less likely" Guantanamo detainees will go to Thomson but that he is still seeking to sell it to the federal government to incarcerate prisoners.