Hardin, Montana - a very small, very poor town with a very new, very empty jail, is willing to take on the responsibility of holding Gitmo detainees:
Hardin borrowed $27 million through bonds to build the Two Rivers Regional Correctional Facility in hopes of creating new employment opportunities. The jail was ready for prisoners two years ago, but has yet to house a single prisoner.
People here say politics in the capital of Helena has kept it empty. But the city council last month voted 5-0 to back a proposal to bring Gitmo detainees -- some of the most hardened terrorists in the world -- to the facility.
Montanan Senators (both of whom are Democrats) wet themselves in response:
The state's congressional leaders have lined up against the plan. "Housing potential terrorists in Montana is not good for our state," Max Baucus, the state's senior Democratic senator, wrote to [economic development director Greg Smith]. "These people stop at nothing. Their primary goal in life, and death, is to destroy America."
Adds Sen. Jon Tester, "I just don't think it's appropriate, that's all. I don't think they know what they're asking for."
Of course, they know what they're asking for. They're asking for the state government to cough up some regular prisoners to house at Hardin so that the town could generate some revenue and maybe pay off its bond. Failing that, they're advertising - and if you don't think that there's money in prison facilities, go talk to the hardcore Left: they have a bee in their bonnet on the subject, as a Google search of the phrase "prison industry" will quickly determine.
Of course, the same groups are busily trumpeting out their support of Hardin, MT without quite realizing that the town is mostly trying to get the word out that they can service a contract to incarcerate a few hundred drug dealers and car thieves - not to mention embarrass its Democratic governor and Senators. At least, that's why I assume this bit at the end:
Smith voices disdain for members of Congress who supported closing Guantanamo but now oppose putting its prisoners in the U.S.
"All of the senators are running for the hills, and all of the representatives. So we really are nowhere except we've got a town that says, 'We have the place and we have the will.' "
Well played, Mr. Smith. Well played.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.