The White House will announce Tuesday it's decision to move a "limited number" of suspected terrorists currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay to Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, administration officials tell Fox.
"The president has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois to house federal inmates and a limited number of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," a senior administration official said in a statement released by the White House.
The statement called movement of detainees suspected of terrorist activities or terrorist collaboration to the U.S. mainland "is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda."
In a notice sent to senior lawmakers in Congress, the White House also defended the long-anticipated Thomson move also "address the urgent over-crowding problem at our nation's federal prisons."
But the overriding White House concerns moving detainees from Guantanamo to expedite the process of closing that facility. In its notice to senior lawmakers, the White House also said it could now "achieve our goal of closing the detention center...in a timely, secure and lawful manner."
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the ranking member of House Judiciary Committee, denounced the transfer plan.
"The administration has yet to explain how bringing Gitmo detainees closer to home makes the American people safer. This decision changes nothing but geography. The Obama administration is simply naive if they really think that simply changing the location of Gitmo will improve our relations with terrorists."
Smith also criticized what he said could be increased access to U.S. judicial protections detainees kept in Guantanamo now cannot access.
"Bringing Gitmo detainees to the U.S. gives terrorists access to additional constitutional rights," Smith said. "These new rights may help terrorists avoid conviction and even file civil suits against American officials."
Fox has also learned the House Intelligence Committee will meet early Tuesday to discuss whether to allow members of the Illinois delegation access to security reports on the potential threats posed by transferring Gitmo detainees to Thomson.