Today, Vice President Cheney continued the Bush administration’s legacy tour by appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Limbaugh’s hard-hitting questions included, “What are you most proud of?” and praise such as, “Over the years when I’ve spoken to you, you have purposely avoided any partisanship, because I know that this has been a policy of the administration.
At one point, Limbaugh mocked President-elect Obama’s promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Cheney agreed and defended Guantanamo, saying that it has been “very well run”:
CHENEY: I think so. I think Guantanamo has been very well run. I think if you look at it from the perspective of the requirements we had, once you go out and capture a bunch of terrorists, as we did in Afghanistan and elsewhere, then you’ve got to have some place to put them. If you bring them here to the U.S. and put them in our local court system, then they are entitled to all kinds of rights that we extend only to American citizens. [...]
So Guantanamo has been very, very valuable. And I think they’ll discover that trying to close it is a very hard proposition.
One reason that Obama has a better chance of closing Guantanamo is that he won’t have Cheney over his shoulder. President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have all said that they would like to close the detention facility. However, these efforts have been repeatedly blocked by officials in Cheney’s office, who object to moving detainees into the United States.
Guantanamo is not well-run, and its presence is putting U.S. servicemembers at risk rather than saving lives. As former Navy general counsel Alberto Mora has explained, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are “the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq.” (CAP’s Ken Gude has put together a plan on how to safely close Guantanamo and transfer the detainees.)
In recent months, other current and former White House officials have been out highlighting Guantanamo as a positive part of Bush’s legacy. Last week, former attorney general John Ashcroft said that detaining terror suspects has been a “humanitarian act,” and Rice disputed that the U.S. image has been “tarnished” by torture.
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