It is rumored that tomorrow during a “Principals Meeting”, the administration will decide to shut down the Guantanamo military detention facility and transfer prisoners there into the American legal system.
I have not received confirmation that this is the case, but it sounds like this could be another important example of President Bush tacking towards the consensus neo-realist position of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, CIA Director Mike Hayden, and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. State Department Elders John Negroponte, R. Nicholas Burns, and John Bellinger have also played vital roles in this transition of policy away from pugnacious, anti-international Cheneyism.
I suggested the other day that Colin Powell’s call to the administration to shut down Guantanamo and his admonition about the damage it was doing every day to America’s prestige and moral credibility was pushed at a “tipping point moment”. Powell probably knows that this was the most efficacious time to speak out. He has assets inside the administration who would have let him in on what was brewing inside the Executive Branch and wanted to give a public push to offset Cheney’s internal resistance.
A friend of mine offered circumstantial evidence that something “big and good” was in the works as he ran into and gave an assessment of the “mood and physical condition” of Condi’s Chief Legal Advisor, John Bellinger, the other day — who has shepherded forward the administration’s support of the Law of the Seas Treaty, helped shut down secret detention facilities, suggested that the US could be supportive of International Criminal Court investigations concerning Darfur, and now probably helped make the case for shutting down GITMO. My friend said he had not seen Bellinger look so relaxed and so happy in quite a long time.
When it comes to these sorts of issues, the “mood” of people who have a conscience is worth noting.
— Steve Clemons
Update: I have just spoken with a senior administration acquaintance “who would not confirm or deny” that there would be the Principals Meeting tomorrow described above — but who made it clear that the press is reporting that some in the administration are saying that the meeting has been cancelled. Cheneyism still has some serious legs perhaps.