"I'd Close It"

Colin Powell appeared on Meet The Press last Sunday. Here are his comments about the Guantanamo Bay prison.

MR. RUSSERT: Guantanamo, the torture. When John McCain was seeking ways to deal with the issue of torture, you wrote him a letter and you said this: “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”


MR. RUSSERT: What do you mean?

GEN. POWELL: They are. Guantanamo has become a major, major problem for America’s perception as it’s seen, the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I’d close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system.

The concern was, “Well, then they’ll have access to lawyers, then they’ll have access to writs of habeas corpus.” So what? Let them. Isn’t that what our system’s all about? And, by the way, America, unfortunately, has two million people in jail all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus. And so we can handle bad people in our system. And so I would get rid of Guantanamo and I’d get rid of the military commission system and use established procedures in federal law or in the manual for courts-martial. I would do that because I think it’s a more equitable way to do it and it’s more understandable in constitutional terms.

I would always—I would also do it because every morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds. And so, essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We don’t need it, and it’s causing us far damage than any good we get for it. But, remember what I started in this discussion saying, “Don’t let any of them go.” Put them into a different system, a system that is experienced, that knows how to handle people like this.

Full Transcript

UPDATE: The editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal used their Fox News program this weekend to disagree with General/Secretary Powell on his comments above. Their main arguments seem to be:

1) the prisoners in Guantanamo are really, really bad people, and
2) Phooey on whatever other nations think about us.

Here is a transcript. Scroll down past the John Yoo interview.

No comments: