Cheney: ‘Guantanamo Has Been Well Run’

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"Cheney: ‘Guantanamo Has Been Well Run’"

cheneyre.jpg 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.

Listen here:

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.

Transcript:

LIMBAUGH: I saw a story in the paper a couple of weeks ago — it was either The Washington Post or The New York Times — that got — made me laugh; yet if I were you it would have frustrated me. I was able to laugh at it. But this story was in a newspaper that had continually been critical of the interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay, and had been supportive of Democrats who had wanted to shut the place down and perhaps bring the prisoners home and give them access to the U.S. court system, as though they were U.S. citizens.

This story happened to say that perhaps President-Elect Obama will not close Guantanamo and will not have to do too much, just maybe write a new — ought to give him authority to keep the place open, because he wants the flexibility and needs the flexibility in order to deal with the problems presented by the prisoners there.

Now, I just — sir, I had to laugh because the thing that you and President Bush have been tarred and feathered over for the last five or six years, they’re now claiming, oh, this is good for us; this is — is that an example of things that you’ve put in place to help defend the country, and they’re going to be appreciative of once they get there and see it?

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.

Remember, these are unlawful combatants. These are people who don’t belong to any recognized military force. They don’t obey the rules of warfare. They’re unlawful combatants. And you can’t — if you’re not going to have a place to locate them like Guantanamo, then you either have to bring them here to the continental United States — and I don’t know any member of Congress who’s volunteering to have al Qaeda terrorists deposited in his district — or you’ve got to turn them over to some foreign government. And we found lots of times when you do that that a number of them have gone back into the — on to the battlefield and tried to kill Americans again.

So Guantanamo has been very, very valuable. And I think they’ll discover that trying to close it is a very hard proposition.

Update

Also during the interview, Cheney said that Obama will “appreciate” how the Bush administration expanded executive power.


Update

,In an interview with ABC News, Cheney reiterated his stance that he would be fine with Guantanamo remaining open indefinitely.

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