Bush: Military Courts Best Place to Deal With Guantanamo Detainees
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2006 Detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are dangerous men, and the best place to deal with them is in military courts, President Bush said here today.
Bush addressed the subject in a lengthy news conference in the White House Rose Garden today. He said he'd like to see Guantanamo closed but is awaiting a Supreme Court decision on how to proceed with war crimes trials.
"I'd like to close Guantanamo," he said. "But I also recognize that ... we're holding some people that are darn dangerous and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts."
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments March 28 in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which will likely determine the legality of the military commissions set up at Guantanamo after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Supreme Court will announce its decisions in the case before it adjourns for the summer recess, usually sometime in late June.
Bush admitted in today's news conference that Guantanamo provides an excuse for some critics to claim the United States is not upholding values it pushes on the rest of the world. But he stressed that the United States is a country of laws and that the men being held at Guantanamo were captured on the battlefield.
He also stressed that the United States is working, when possible, to send detainees from Guantanamo to their home countries.
About 290 one-time detainees have been released or transferred to their home countries, Defense Department officials said. The U.S. State Department is working on the release or transfer of another 120 of the nearly 460 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay.
"We've sent a lot of people home already," Bush said. "I don't think the American people know that, and nor do the citizens of some of the countries that are concerned about Guantanamo."