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Ear to the Ground

Defense Secretary Wanted Gitmo Closed

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Posted on Mar 23, 2007

When the phrase “speaking on ground rules of anonymity” appears in The New York Times, we tend to get nervous, but a set of anonymous reports just caught our eye. According to the reports, our new defense secretary, right out of the gate (forgive the pun), argued for closing Guantanamo because its reputation had hurt the war effort. Robert M. Gates also reportedly argued that the detainees there should be brought to the U.S.

Condoleezza Rice actually agreed with the proposal, only to run headlong into opposition from Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. After going round and round for a bit, President Bush opted for the status quo, putting the kibosh on any further discussion.


New York Times:

Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantanamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said. In particular, Mr. Gates urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantanamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said.

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.

As Mr. Gates was making his case, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined him in urging that the detention facility be shut down, administration officials said. But the high-level discussions about closing Guantanamo came to a halt after Mr. Bush rejected the approach, although officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department continue to analyze options for the detention of terrorism suspects.

The base at Guantanamo holds about 385 prisoners, among them 14 senior leaders of Al Qaeda, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who were transferred to it last year from secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Under the Pentagon’s current plans, some prisoners, including Mr. Mohammed, will face war crimes charges under military trials that could begin later this year.

“The policy remains unchanged,” said Gordon D. Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Even so, one senior administration official who favors the closing of the facility said the battle might be renewed.

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By Ann Marie, March 26, 2007 at 9:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Poor Secretary Gates. He always looks as if he swallowed a fly; something is leaving a bad taste in his mouth. Still, he comes off much better than the “fiddle-de-deing” Rumpsfeld. Imagine having a Secretary of Defense who takes events seriously enough to do something about them.

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By Toby, March 25, 2007 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m inclined to agree with fiskhus jim (Comment #60057)

If we have learned nothing else in the last six plus years, we surely have learned ... ALL LEAKS SPRING FROM THE WHITE HOUSE! 

If Rice and Gates had a principled stand on any issue, we would see things being done very differently. In fact, like everyone else that has moved in and out of this administration they are expected to be yes men/women.

Those who obligingly click their heels and say, “yes sir(s),” are still there. Perhaps in a different position, but still there. Those who do not are gone.

Seems the only way a person can escape the iron fist of the Bush/Cheney presidency is to be convicted of a crime, or Quit!

Some may want to see this “leaked” story as an indication of good people in high positions trying to bring about positive change. In reality, it only proves the administration likes their folks to grovel. To many times, we’ve seen their obedient servants fall on their faces and ask, “How much lower do you want me to go?”

Look what Tony Snow goes through every day.

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By Wayne Smyer, March 25, 2007 at 2:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

White House FAUX News Quotes:“If Gates tries to close GITMO, I will personally invite him to a Texas Quail Hunt” your truly “vice” War presinator, F-You Cheney
  TORTURE IS GOOD! PEACE IS BAD!

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By Dale Headley, March 23, 2007 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although I can’t help but be a little skeptical, it’s looking more and more like Robert Gates is that rarity among Bush Administration officials: an honorable man!

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By fiskhus jim, March 23, 2007 at 11:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve always said that the measure of the corruption of any particular administration lies in the people they force you to admire for principle.

The Reagan Administration showed its moral poverty when it forced both Alexander Haig and Jeanne Kirkpatrick to take moral stands against proposed policy - and Bush the Second is following that trend.  Now we are forced to admire both Rice and Gates for their principled stand on this issue?

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By trantieungoc, March 23, 2007 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We all wanted this criminal concentration camp to be closed long long time ago. Those who want to keep this open are also considered to be executioners of modern time !

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By Bukko in Australia, March 23, 2007 at 3:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Aside from the obvious, there are two other things that interested me about this story.

One, it had to be LEAKED from somewhere. Probably Gates, or someone else high up in the War Department. So that indicates there is another opposition front opened against The Torture Czar.

Second, a $100 million courthouse at Guantanamo Bay? Gimme a break! Or rather, gimme another licence to steal! I’m sure that once a Halliburton subsidiary got the no-bid contract, they would have erected a nice $5 million courthouse, several years behind schedule. The other $95 million would be stolen by crooked friends of Tricky Dick. He must be gnashing his fangs over that missed opportunity. On the other hand, perhaps he’s stolen so much that another few tens of millions doesn’t matter.

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