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Clinton Et Al Ltr to Illinois Governor Re Transfering Guantanamo Detainees 2009

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December 15, 2009
The Honorable Pat Quinn
Governor of Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Dear Governor Quinn:
On January 22, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13492, directing the
closure of the detention center at Guantanamo. A key purpose of this Order was to protect our
national security and help our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of
al-Qa'ida. This should not be a political or partisan issue. This action is supported by the
nation's highest military and civilian leaders who prosecuted the war against al-Qa'ida under the
previous administration and continue to do so today. It is also supported by five previous
Secretaries of State who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, including
those of Presidents Nixon, Ford, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.
On November 12,2009, you wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Attorney General Eric Holder proposing that the Federal Government work with the State of
Illinois to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center to house Federal inmates and a limited
number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We appreciate the leadership and assistance
you and Senator Dick Durbin have provided during our evaluation of this proposal. We also
would like to thank Thomson Village President Jerry "Duke" Hebeler and the people of
Thomson and the surrounding region for their support and hospitality.
We write to inform you that the President has directed, with our unanimous support, that
the Federal Government proceed with the acquisition of the facility in Thomson. Not only will
this help address the urgent overcrowding problem at our nation's Federal prisons, but it will also
help achieve our goal of closing the detention center at Guantanamo in a timely, secure, and
lawful manner.
Executive Order 13492 directed us to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and
to conduct a review of the most secure and efficient way to adjudicate each of the Guantanamo
detainee cases. This is part ofthe President's aggressive posture in the fight against al-Qa'ida
that uses all instruments of our national power, including: keeping the pressure on a1-Qa'ida and
its leadership globally; strengthening homeland security and increasing cooperation and
intelligence sharing among Federal agencies and between the Federal Government and state and
local authorities; recognizing our values as a critical piece of our battle against our enemies;
prosecuting detainees in Federal courts, which have safely and securely prosecuted terrorists for
many years; trying detainees for violations of the law of war in military commissions, which
were reformed by bipartisan legislation signed by the President in October; and transferring
detainees to their home countries or third countries that agree to accept them, when consistent
with our national security interests and humane treatment policies.

As the President has made clear, we will need to continue to detain some individuals
currently held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. To securely house these detainees,
Federal agencies plan to work with you and other state officials to acquire the nearly vacant
maximum security facility in Thomson, Illinois. This facility will serve dual purposes. First, the
Department of Justice will acquire this facility primarily to house Federal inmates. The Bureau
of Prisons has a pressing need for more bed space in light of current crowded conditions.
Second, the Defense Department will operate part of the facility to house a limited number of
detainees from Guantanamo. The two parts of the facility will be managed separately, and
Federal inmates will have no opportunity to interact with Guantanamo detainees.
The security of the facility and the surrounding region is our paramount concern. The
facility was built in 2001 to maximum security specifications, and after acquisition it will be
enhanced to exceed perimeter security standards at the nation's only "supermax" prison in
Florence, Colorado, where there has never been an escape or external attack. Federal
departments and agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and
Defense, will work closely with state and local law enforcement authorities to identify and
mitigate any risks, including sharing information through the state's "fusion center" and working
with the Federal Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The President has no intention of releasing any detainees in the United States. Current
law effectively bars the release of the Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil, and the Federal
Government has broad authority under current law to detain individuals during removal
proceedings and pending the execution of final removal orders.
Federal officials also have consulted with local, county, and state law enforcement
authorities to begin the process of identifying additional resources they may require to handle the
increased population of Federal inmates and detainees. We are pleased that Illinois law
enforcement authorities endorsed this plan in a letter to the Secretary of Defense and the
Attorney General dated December 2,2009. We also note that more than 30 villages, towns,
cities, counties, chambers of commerce, and other community and business organizations have
sent letters, approved resolutions, or otherwise expressed their support for this plan. We are
greatly encouraged by this support, and we commit to working with local authorities closely as
this process moves forward.
There are many steps still to be taken and many requirements still to be met, but we look
forward to working with you to complete the Federal acquisition of the facility in Thomson.

4 \\woR-o ~vv-~~
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

ecretary of


Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General

Dennis C. Blair
Director of National Intelligence



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