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June 14, 2005
Cheney: Guantanamo Or Something Like It

Vice President Dick Cheney told the American public twice yesterday that Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay would remain open despite calls for its closure for better public relations. The Washington Post reports on Cheney's appearance at the National Press Club, where he echoed similar remarks from his interview on Fox:

Vice President Cheney offered a vigorous defense yesterday of the secretive prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said the United States has no plans to shut it down.

Although President Bush kept open the possibility of closing the prison outpost in Cuba, Cheney said such a move would be unwise because the United States needs a special prison to hold and interrogate potential terrorists captured around the world. Cheney said prisoners there are treated "far better" than they would be by any other government and disagreed sharply with critics who charge the United States' image has been undermined by allegations of abuse at the facility.

"Now, does this hurt us from the standpoint of international opinion?" Cheney said at the National Press Club. "I frankly don't think so. And my own personal view of it is that those who are most urgently advocating that we shut down Guantanamo probably don't agree with our policies anyway."

And that is exactly the point. The only logical argument for shutting down X-Ray would be if the US changed its policy regarding high-value detainees. That's what critics of the American effort against terrorists really want; they want a return to the impotent approach of terrorism as a law-enforcement problem rather than an act of war. Instead of housing unlawful combatants at Guantanamo or a similar facility, they want all prisoners to have access to American courts and American lawyers in order to tie up their cases for years, and to make the soldiers and intelligence agents who capture them similarly sidelined.

In both venues, Cheney reminded people that these detainees have no Geneva protections, and yet they receive humane housing within the parameters of detention facilities. They face intense interrogation because they're terrorists, captured out of uniform either in the battlefield of Afghanistan or Iraq or through intelligence work in overseas venues. Even that interrogation hardly lives up (or down) to the hysterical allegations thrown around by Amnesty International, as Time Magazine inadvertently confirmed in its publication of the interrogation log of Gitmo's highest-valued prisoner. It's unpleasant but hardly abusive, and calling it torture insults the victims of Saddam Hussein, whose missing hands and tongues and scarred bodies give their own testimony to the true nature of torture.

If the US closes Gitmo, it will have to open another facility just like it to continue the work we're doing at Camp X-Ray. The waste of time, effort, and money just to play a shell game with detainees for nothing more than an empty PR gesture runs the costs too high for the momentary gratification it will give wobblies like Chuck Hagel and Mel Martinez. Both men and others in Congress should remember that we are at war, and if they want to avoid another 9/11, we need to get answers from the Mohammed al-Qahtanis we capture to stop terrorist plans before they come to fruition. If that causes angst among the people of Europe and/or the Muslim worldwide community, that's just too bad. Our leadership isn't elected to make the Muslim community happy at the expense of American lives by the thousands.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 14, 2005 7:03 AM

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Gitmo will not be closed says Vice President Cheney. Ed Morrissey writes: The only logical argument for shutting down X-Ray would be if the US changed its policy regarding high-value detainees. That's what critics of the American effort against terrorists [Read More]

Tracked on June 15, 2005 1:09 AM

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