Representative Bruce Braley has rejected Republican critics of a proposal to transfer some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Thomson Correctional Center, just across the Mississippi River from Clinton.
"The time for fear-mongering is over," Braley said. "I have listened to my constituents all week, and they have told me with a resounding voice they want these jobs to come to their area."
According to the president's Council of Economic Advisers, the plan for Thomson "would create 840 to 910 temporary jobs and between 3,180 and 3,880 ongoing jobs over the first four years," and local residents could fill as many as 1,400 of those jobs.
Iowa Republicans don't appear ready to stop stoking fears about terrorists coming to a prison near you. State GOP chairman Matt Strawn's November 20 e-mail blast slammed Braley, along with Representatives Leonard Boswell and Dave Loebsack:
On the only vote specifically related to keeping these terrorists off American soil, all three voted to welcome them with open arms. Now Iowans face the prospect of them being housed minutes from our state.
Iowa's Republican members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King both voted in support of the legislation keeping terrorist detainees out of the U.S. [...]
Additionally, Congressman Latham this week introduced the 'Keep Terrorists out of the Midwest Act" following the news that the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill., has emerged as a leading option for prosecution and incarceration.
I gather that Republicans are confident this is a winning issue for them, but is there any evidence that Iowans are afraid to have prisoners moved to a maximum-security facility on the other side of the Mississippi? John Carlson, the Des Moines Register's conservative columnist, went to Clinton last week and found broad support for the plan.
I'd like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers who live in the area. Will Republicans score political points with this controversy, or will their efforts backfire in eastern Iowa counties that stand to gain jobs from Thomson's expansion?