In June 2006, President Bush claimed, “I’d like to close Guantanamo.” Two months ago, Condoleezza Rice said, “The President has said, and I fully agree, we would like nothing better than to close Guantanamo.” Those words are proving to be nothing more than lip service.
In September, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Congress that his push to close Guantanamo was running into “obstacles” from administration lawyers. The Financial Times reports today that the prospects of closing Gitmo have since dimmed considerably:
But three months on, the lawyers have made little headway. In addition to facing complex legal issues involved in closing the prison and transferring detainees to the US, they are running into opposition from other parts of the administration, including Dick Cheney, the vice-president. [...]
One former senior official said the push to close Guantanamo had lost the intensity needed to have a realistic chance of closing the prison during the Bush administration.
The New York Times reported in March that when Gates first arrived on the job, he “repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guant¡namo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guant¡namo would be viewed as illegitimate” and told President Bush “that it should be shut down as quickly as possible.” The Times reported:
Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.
Though Gonzales has since departed, Cheney has found a new ally in Attorney General Michael Muksasey, who said during his confirmation hearing, “I can’t simply say we have to close Guantanamo.”
In June, there was a meeting scheduled at the White House to discuss closing Guantanamo Bay. When word of that meeting leaked out to the press, Cheney allies seized the opportunity to cancel the meeting.