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McCain: Move detainees to Thomson

Holder promised otherwise in 2012

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:40 a.m. CST
(MCT News Service)
John McCain

THOMSON – Sen. John McCain says he is working with the Obama administration on a plan to move Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees to the Thomson prison.

That flies in the face of a pledge last year from Attorney General Eric Holder. During sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder promised that the administration would not transfer the detainees to the Thomson prison, even if federal law were to change.

However, McCain, R-Ariz., told CNN on Sunday that public support for closing Guantanamo is increasing. He said he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are talking with the administration about the relocation plan.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, both Obama and McCain promised to close Guantanamo. When Obama took office, his administration considered Thomson as a possible site for the Guantanamo detainees.

But many congressional Republicans protested bringing the detainees to the mainland.

McCain's new effort might give the Obama administration bipartisan cover to move detainees to Thomson.

Last October, the federal government paid $165 million for the prison in Thomson, a Carroll County town along the Mississippi River.

The state built the 1,600-cell, maximum-security prison a decade ago, then decided it couldn't afford to run it. It had been looking for a buyer for years.

The prison is expected to bring 1,100 jobs, but it could be years before it opens. Officials say recent budget cuts could delay the facility's opening.

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