Olbermann: Bush 'lied' about intending to close Gitmo
President Bush "lied" when he promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
That was the conclusion of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, based on a New York Times report that Bush "never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials."
Defense Secretary Gates has publicly conceded that Guanatanamo "is an issue that will have to be addressed early on by a new administration."
"Mr. Bush does not even have the courage to clean his own diaper," Olbermann concluded.
In an exchange during a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked about Bush's decision not to close the camp and replied, "I don't see anything that's new in that story. What the President has said is that he wants to be able to get into a position where we could close Guantanamo eventually. But it's very complex, it's complicated, it is difficult."
Pernio cited unresolved issues involving military commissions, returning some detainees to their home countries or elsewhere, ongoing habeas corpus litigation regarding a federal judge's recent order that 17 Chinese Muslims who are no longer considered enemy combatants must be freed within the United States, and the administration's attempt to get Congress to pass legislation overturning a Supreme Court ruling that detainees have the right to challenge their detention in US courts.
When that ruling was handed down in June, John McCain called it "a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country," while Barack Obama praised it in a statement which read, "Today's Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo – yet another failed policy supported by John McCain."
The administration favors a bill proposed by Senators Lindsay Graham and Joe Liberman that "would reaffirm that the nation remains at war and thus that enemy combatants may be detained until the termination of hostilities." It would also prevent the release of detainees within the US and perpetuate the use of military commissions.
Perino went on to claim that "seven percent of the people who have been returned from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield. ... It's slow work because we are being very diligent in making sure that we do everything that we can to make sure that potential terrorists aren't in a position to be able to hurt innocent people again."
The figure of seven percent comes from a Defense Intelligence Agency report of last May, which asserts that 36 former detainees are "confirmed or suspected" of having returned to terrorism. However, that number includes both actual terrorists and those involved in "local, tactical-level, anti-coalition activity" in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Guantanamo issue has now been dragging on for well over a year. On June 22, 2007, USA Today reported that "a scheduled high-level Friday meeting on the matter was canceled after AP reported on it and the White House said no decision is imminent – while repeating President Bush's stated desire to shutter Guantanamo Bay."
Perino stated at the time that the AP report had been "overblown" and that "while the president has said that we want to make sure that we close this facility as quickly as possible, he's not put a deadline on it because there are complex issues. We have to make sure that we handle it appropriately."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast October 21, 2008.
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Perino says that closing Guantanamo isn't easy
This video is from Whitehouse.gov, broadcast October 21, 2008.
Download video via RawReplay.com