President Obama's hometown cronies lost their bid to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to the Windy City. But this week they got a consolation prize: the Gitmolympics. On Tuesday, the White House went public with its official plans to purchase the Thomson Correctional Facility from financially strapped Illinois to house Guantanamo Bay detainees. The War on Terror meets the Chicago Way.
Political boosters of the Illinois budget bailout masquerading as a national security program can't wait to roll out the jihadi welcome mat. Unions representing federal prison workers also cheered the move. Leading the lobbying delegation for the new Gitmo-in-the-heartland located a few hours west of Chicago: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, last seen on the international stage in 2005 likening American interrogators and military staff at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulag operators and genocidal maniac Pol Pot.
And co-chairing the bid to bring suspected jihadis to American soil: beleaguered Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who is salivating at the prospect of an estimated $1 billion injection into the local economy over four years. (Never mind that the jobs predictions from the Council of Economic Advisers use the same fuzzy math methods that gave us bogus porkulus numbers.)
Sensibly, the people of Illinois who will have to live with this raw deal aren't waving their pompoms. A Rasmussen poll shows that 51 percent of voters in the state oppose the transfer of suspected terrorists from the Cuban detention facility to their backyard -- including 70 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents.
Left-wing advocates of closing Gitmo accuse these Americans of "NIMBYism" and groundless fear. But can you blame anyone who watched the Crashergate debacle at the White House or the Scare Force One debacle in New York City for choking on disbelief when Team Obama promises airtight safety, security and competence?
Moreover, Illinois is already suffering its own severe prison-overcrowding crisis -- which Quinn has alleviated by secretly releasing more than 850 inmates, including violent offenders, since September, according to the Associated Press.