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Admin on Gitmo: We're Staying the Course

Guantanamo Bay (Randall Mikkelsen/Reuters)In perhaps one of the least surprising developments of recent months, the New York Times, citing "senior administration officials," reports that President Bush will not be closing the prison in Guantánamo Bay before he turns out the lights at the White House.

President Bush has previously made comments expressing a desire to ultimately, sometime in the future, close Gitmo. "It should be a goal of the nation to shut down Guantánamo," he said last year. "But it is not as easy a subject as some may think on the surface."

According to the Times, the president "never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere."

The White House apparently had a meeting this summer after the Supreme Court decided that Gitmo detainees must have access to U.S. courts. Says the Times: "Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guantánamo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon."

According to the Times, the administration is going full-steam ahead, "proceeding on the assumption that Guantánamo will remain open not only for the rest of Mr. Bush's presidency but also well beyond."

Both Sens. McCain and Obama have called for closing Gitmo (though with little detail about how). But an "administration official" predicted that the "new president [whoever he is] will gnash his teeth and beat his head against the wall when he realizes how complicated it is to close Guantánamo."

(As for why none of these quotes have a name attached, the Times offers the following boilerplate: They "spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's internal deliberations.")

According to the Times, the administration's no-change policy for Gitmo includes proceeding with the war crimes tribunals there. Meanwhile, the tribunals have not exactly been going swimmingly lately. Last month, for instance, a prosecutor at the one of the trials resigned and complained that the prosecution had not given the defense "potentially exculpatory evidence." He was the sixth Gitmo prosecutor to step down or refuse to prosecute, citing qualms with the system.

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