Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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August 1, 2007

Cheney on Larry King last night:

“I think you need to have someplace to hold those individuals who have been captured during the global war on terror. I’m thinking of people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed. This is a man we captured in Pakistan. He’s the mastermind of 9/11. There are hundreds of people like that, and if you closed Guantanamo, you’d have to find someplace else to put these folks.”

First, there are “hundreds” of high-value terrorist detainees? There are only about 360 detainees at Guantanamo Bay now, several dozen of which would be candidates for release were there a country willing to take them. Second, why can’t we use the civilian system to prosecute, with some modicum of legitimacy, these “high-value” detainees? The administration keeps asserting that that’s infeasible, without any explanation.And third, if, with credulity strained, we accept the vice president’s remarks at face value, what the heck are we waiting for? Let’s figure out, once and for all, where we can legally detain those who need detaining. Guantanamo Bay continues to be a public relations nightmare for a nation already vulnerable to propagandic attack.Moreover, much of that opprobrium stems from the administration’s serious miscalculation when it figured on Guantanamo Bay as a legal black hole, where detainees could be locked up indefinitely without civilian review. Yet, as per usual, the Bush administration continues to toe a hard line, refusing to admit failure and eschewing constructive solution.The administration’s obstinacy is becoming a parody of itself (like that Family Guy clip where the donkey keeps refusing to admit Kevin Bacon was in Footloose).

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