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SecDef Pushing Closure

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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June 22, 2007

More on the close-gitmo meeting from the Times.

The momentum for closing the camp has come in part from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has argued repeatedly that the detention unit has acquired such a shabby image abroad that legal proceedings involving the terrorist suspects would not be respected around the world.Mr. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agree on this issue, in sharp contrast to the situation that prevailed under Mr. Gates’s predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, who opposed a quick shutdown of the detention camp. And Stephen A. Cambone, who was highly influential as Mr. Rumsfeld’s under secretary for intelligence, and who also opposed closing the camp, has left the administration.One sign of Mr. Gates’s influence was his success in killing plans to build a $100 million courthouse and detention complex at Guantanamo on the grounds that its construction would signal American intention to keep prisoners there for a long time. A much more modest, less costly facility was approved.The move toward closing Guantanamo may also have picked up speed because Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who opposes shutting down the camp anytime soon, has lost influence within the administration because of the continuing calls for his resignation over the controversial firings of several United States attorneys and other turmoil within the Justice Department.Vice President Dick Cheney also opposes closing the camp in the near future and has been silent for some time about the issue.