Why the National Review Is Wrong to Whine About Moving Prisoners to Thomson Correctional Center

The NR editors are calling for the continuation of grotesque U.S. exceptionalism -- and tripping over their own logic in the process.

Those lovable chickenhawks over at National Review have a serious problem with Obama’s decision to move Guantanamo inmates to a little-used state prison in Thomson, Ill. Why? Mostly because they’re convinced that these isolated, likely abused people will all of a sudden summon uncanny kung-fu/escape/espionage skills (thus far concealed; it’s all part of their devious plan, you see) and bust out of a facility that’s being upgraded to "beyond supermax:"

TCC is not ready to accommodate international jihadists, who are prone to riot, savagely attack their custodians, attempt escape, and plot terror attacks while in U.S. prisons.

Hmmm…but aren’t prison riots, terrorist plots and maimings pretty hard to carry out when you’re isolated from all other prisoners and under round the clock surveillance by U.S. soldiers? And haven’t residents of Thomson been pretty clear about how much they do want the detainees to be brought there? About how little fear they’re actually experiencing? TCC, by the way, is already equipped with a 12-foot high exterior fence and a 15-foot interior one. The latter includes a two-sided "electric stun barrier."

The threat of escape is only one part of it though, bray the NR editors. Liberal judges, who, like the terrorists, hate our freedom (to detain people without trial), are sure to release these prisoners willy-nilly into the U.S.

Many civilian judges are fundamentally hostile to the concept of indefinite detention under wartime protocols that do not require proof of a crime. With no political accountability to the voters whose lives are at stake, and no guidance from Congress regarding the rules for these detention proceedings, judges have made abominable rulings, vacating the combatant designations of detainees who were trained in terror camps and clearly connected to the jihadist network.

Actually, no judge has ever released a detainee into the United States. And, contrary to this tangled clusterbang of assertions, Obama announced earlier this year that any prisoners brought into the U.S. would continue to be held as “combatants" -- that is, without trial.

Still, the worst part of this is not the ignorance. It's all the crosscurrents of Right-wing doublespeak: The superiority of our nation -- along with that of its people -- must be protected, goes the line of reasoning. Therefore, we ought to keep these detainees incarcerated in a place that’s likely become this generation's biggest symbol of American hypocrisy. Makes sense, right?

Or what about the fact that these armchair generals are so into bragging about the U.S.'s dominance, but refuse to believe that our government could ever contain a few dozen emaciated prisoners? It makes no sense. 

Anyway, big deal if “Gitmo has already been hardened, at a cost of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.” Big deal if “it is now a state-of-the-art, Geneva Conventions-compliant detention center.” It still exists as a despicable beacon of imperial arrogance -- a symbol the NR editors are all too willing to embrace.

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