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A debate has erupted over whether putting scores of Guantanamo detainees into rural Illinois jails would be good for the rural economy. Federal officials were in northwest Illinois Monday inspecting a largely vacant maximum security prison (above) in Thomson. The perfect home for 100 possible terrorists. And, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, both Democrats, claimed this move would create about 3,000 jobs around the town. 

The Ds are picking up this line — and it’s an old one: the economic benefits of prisons.  “At a time when Illinois is facing recession … this is a lifeline. This is an opportunity,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Monday. “These people deserve a fighting chance to save their communities … and this project will give them that chance.” Durbin called it a “competition” to see which community would house the prisoners. 

Republicans scoffed, saying he prison would only create 500 jobs, and warned of trouble ahead for any rural town that housed the prisoners. “By moving the Al Qaeda core to Thomson along with 1,500 U.S. troops, the United States will publicly brand Illinois as the new Gitmo,” said Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican. According to Fox News, “Kirk and other Republicans warn that Thomson could become a terrorist target and say the economic benefits would be relatively slight.” 

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