Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that the only alternative to holding some suspected terrorists indefinitely would be to execute them, arguing against the Obama administration’s plans to close the Guantanamo detainee prison.
“If you’re going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are, such as the global war on terrorism, if you don’t have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them,” Mr. Cheney said.
“And we don’t operate that way.”
The former vice president’s statements only raise the stakes in fierce debate with his critics, who believe Mr. Cheney presided over the formulation of interrogation techniques that they regard as torture and remains unapologetic for approving waterboarding and other harsh methods used.
Mr. Cheney bases his argument on the view that suspected terrorists should be considered prisoners of war and said such persons “ought to be held until the end of the conflict.
He also criticized the Obama administration for failing to think through its plans to shutter Guantanamo.
“The administration made a mistake of the president issuing an order that he wants it closed within a year, but didn’t have a clue as to how to proceed,” Mr. Cheney said. “And now they’re having trouble because they’re having to come up with a plan of some kind.”
Mr. Cheney, who has become the most prominent figure to defend the Bush administration’s record on terror and national security, spoke and took questions at a lunch honoring journalism award winners at the National Press Club.
The former vice president said that the Guantanamo Bay prison is “a fine facility” and that the White House will have a “very difficult” time closing it, because of the legal, political and diplomatic challenges associated with indefinite detention.
Mr. Obama has indicated that even after Guantanamo’s closure, the government will still hold some detainees in prolonged detention. He has also restarted the military commissions process to try some detainees there instead of in civilian courts, following a Bush-era policy.
In arguing for the continued use of Guantanamo, Mr. Cheney cited recent press reports that said about 14 percent of the more than 500 prisoners released from Guantanamo have returned to what he called that jihad business. However, more recent reporting has indicated that the recidivism rate among freed detainees is likely much lower.
Mr. Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo, however, was praised by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during a visit to Washington.
For the psychological atmosphere the symbolic issues are important, Mr. Davutoglu said during an interview with a small group of journalists at his Washington hotel. Many things in our region are psychological.
But on the domestic political front, one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination to run against Mr. Obama in 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, took aim at the president’s foreign policy and defense budget cuts.View Entire Story
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