"Bush Says He'd Like to Close Guantanamo" - AP (Washington), 7 May 2006
WASHINGTON - President Bush says he would like to close the detention center in Guantanamo in Cuba, but is waiting for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether inmates can face military tribunals.
"Obviously, the Guantanamo issue is a sensitive issue for people," Bush told ARD German television. "I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court.
"And we're waiting for our Supreme Court to give us a decision as to whether the people need to have a fair trial in a civilian court or in a military court," he said in a transcript released Sunday....
The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether military tribunals can hear the cases of the detainees.
Bush said in the interview with ARD on Thursday that either way the court rules, "they will get a trial which they, themselves, were unwilling to give to the people that they're willing to kill."
Bush said the United States "is strong on human rights and civil rights."
"That's why we're leading the case in funding for HIV/AIDS in Africa," Bush said. "That's why we're trying to rally the nation to do something about Darfur -- the genocide in Darfur. That's why we provide food for the hungry. That's why we try to liberate people when we find them in the clutches of tyranny."
I think this transcript, from the White House website, is the interview described by AP:
"Interview of the President by Sabine Christiansen of ARD German Television" - interview transcript, the White House (Washington, DC), 4 May 2006
...Q We Germans seem to be more involved -- have been more involved in the Iraq war than anybody else knew -- involuntarily, I would like to say. Because the U.S. intelligence services used German airports for secret rendition flights, and interrogated, even, German citizens -- hardly what you'd expect, I would say, from a friend and ally.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, on intelligence matters, it's my policy not to talk about them, otherwise they're not intelligence matters anymore. And the questions you ask will be all -- in some cases, analyzed through courts, in some cases through press inquiry. But Germany is a friend.
Q But the behavior itself? Is it behavior for an ally --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, like, what are you talking about?
Q I mean that you do this, that you don't ask for help for some of the ally, that you don't inform the ally and so on.
THE PRESIDENT: On like what subject, for example?
Q Like these flights, for example.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, again, you're asking me to talk about intelligence matters that I'm not going to talk about. And people can say whatever they want to say, but we work closely with Germany on all kinds of fronts in order to protect ourselves.
Q Then let me ask you about the image of the United States, especially for us Germans after the war, the United States stood as the symbol of liberty, for democracy. And then we saw these -- we saw Abu Ghraib, we saw Guantanamo, and these seemed suddenly to be signals that you're abandoning these values of democracy and liberty. And how do you want to repair them?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, it's absurd to say America is abandoning our values. No question Abu Ghraib was a disgrace for our country. But I think people ought to take a look at what happened afterwards -- and those who are responsible for that disgraceful behavior have been held to account, have been tried, have been, in some cases, dismissed from our military.
We're at war with an enemy. And we've got to protect ourselves. And, obviously, the Guantanamo issue is a sensitive issue for people. I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court. And we're waiting for our Supreme Court to give us a decision as to whether the people need to have a fair trial in a civilian court or in a military court.
But in either case, they will get a trial which they, themselves, were unwilling to give to the people that they're willing to kill -- "they," the enemy.
And so it's -- no, listen, our country is strong on human rights and civil rights. That's why we're leading the case in funding for HIV/AIDS in Africa. That's why we're trying to rally the nation to do something about Darfur -- the genocide in Darfur. That's why we provide food for the hungry. That's why we try to liberate people when we find them in the clutches of tyranny....
Added 9 May 2006:
"President's Guantanamo Comments Raise Policy Questions," by Carol Rosenberg - the Miami Herald, 8 May 2006
Is President Bush signaling plans to send away detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or to bring hundreds of captives there to trial, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules next month on detainees' legal rights?
Neither, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. J. D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.
''U.S. policy for detention operations has not changed,'' the Pentagon point man for questions about Guantánamo said today.
Questions emerged after the White House released a transcript Sunday of a presidential interview with a German television station that suggested a coming change in detention policy....
At the White House this morning, National Security Council spokesman Fred Jones said the president was making clear that the United States intends ``to see that the individuals at Guantánamo Bay are brought to justice.''
''We've got to protect ourselves,'' said Gordon, a Pentagon official who is designated spokesman for issues related to the Navy base in Cuba. ``While Guantánamo is clearly a sensitive issue, the U.S. policy for detention operations has not changed.''
"Attorney General Calls for Guantanamo to Close," by Jamie Doward and Mark Townsend - the Guardian (UK), 7 May 2006
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is set to trigger a diplomatic row between Britain and the United States by calling for Guantánamo Bay to close.
The decision by the government's chief legal adviser to denounce the detention centre in Cuba as 'unacceptable' will dismay the Bush administration, which has continually rejected claims that the camp breaches international laws on human rights.
But Goldsmith will tell a global security conference at the Royal United Services Institute this week that the camp at Guantánamo Bay must not continue. 'It is time, in my view, that it should close.' An urbane lawyer who eschews the limelight, Goldsmith is not known for shooting from the hip in such unequivocal terms; however, it is clear he has harboured grave doubts for some time over the legality of Guantánamo under international law.
'There are certain principles on which there can be no compromise,' Goldsmith will say. 'Fair trial is one of those - which is the reason we in the UK were unable to accept that the US military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantánamo Bay offered sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards.'
Although privately some senior ministers believe Guantánamo should be closed down, no one has so far condemned the camp in such open and trenchant terms. To date, the strongest criticism of the camp has come from Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland minister, who said on Newsnight in February that it was his personal belief that the camp should close, while the Prime Minister said only that it is an 'anomaly' that will have to end one day....
Added 11 May 2006:
"UK Told US Won't Close Guantanamo" - BBC News, 11 May 2006
The US has rejected the UK government's calls for closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects.
US officials said the camp housed dangerous people who could pose a fresh threat if they were released....
Responding to the criticism, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US "would like nothing better" than to close Guantanamo down at some point in the future.
Echoing the words of US President George W Bush - who in a TV interview on Sunday said he would like to "end" the detention centre - he said: "Nobody wants to be a jailer for the world."
"But the fact of the matter is that the people there are dangerous people," Mr McCormack said.
"One thing we don't want to do is release people now who might at some point in the future end up on the battlefield facing our troops or somebody else's troops, or committing acts of terrorism against civilians."
A Pentagon spokesman said: "The dangerous detainees at Guantanamo include terrorist trainers, bomb makers and would-be suicide bombers, many who have vowed to return to the fight."...
The problem with the 'dangerous people' defense, of course, is that stories about Guantanamo and US detention practices create additional enmity. The net effect does not improve US security.