The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 19, 2009

Lawmaker fights Ill. prison plan

Tom Latham says detainees should not be in Iowa’s backyard

CLINTON — An Iowa Congressman is looking to put the brakes on proposed plans to move terror detainees being transferred from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Thomson Correctional Center.

Tom Latham, a Republican whose district covers north central Iowa and extends east to the Wisconsin border, said he will introduce legislation this week that would block the transfer of detainees to Iowa and 10 other Midwestern states.

“I have heard from so many Iowans over the past few days who are rightfully concerned about the proposed location of Guantanamo Bay terrorist-detainees to our backyard,” Latham said in a statement Wednesday.

Latham announced the measure in response to reports that the Illinois town about 12 miles north of Clinton is the leading candidate for the detainees and 1,500 to 1,600 maximum-security inmates.

Latham is one of many Republicans who have come out against the measure. U.S. Rep. Dan Manzullo, R-Ill., opposed the plan because of security concerns and U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is seeking to amend an upcoming appropriations bill to require an impact study before any move is made.

The issue appears to be splitting along partisan lines but not all Democrats have been quick to jump to a conclusion. U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, said he wants to continue to talk with colleagues and constituents before he backs the measure, which has not been given a timeline. U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., supports the plan, he said Wednesday.

Iowa State Sen. Roger Stewart, whose district borders the Mississippi River, said the number of jobs created would benefit the region.

“Unless something comes up that changes my mind it seems to be a positive thing,” the Preston Democrat said.

Several Illinois lawmakers have also backed the plan. State Sen. Mike Jacobs and State Rep. Mike Boland, both East Moline Democrats, each said they would welcome inmates to Thomson.

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