George Bush Reversing Course on GITMO?


bush powell.jpg
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.
John_Bellinger72.jpgA 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.
More soon.
— 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.


12 comments on “George Bush Reversing Course on GITMO?

  1. Sandy says:

    Colin Powell is supposed to be on Larry King Live tonight at 9 p.m.
    Wonder if he’ll only throw softballs at him?
    ….talk about Paris….


  2. Sandy says:

    Our New Yorker just came today, and I read the Seymour Hersh piece on Gen Taguba and Abu Ghraib tonight.
    All the great institutions of our country have been…or are being…ruined. Shocking how quickly and devastatingly Bush/Cheney and the Neo-Conservatives, by design, have managed to do that.
    The military is being run into the ground. Duty. Honor. Country. Used. Those poor young kids are dying — the numbers…of the dying…”surging”. For what? WHY ARE THEY THERE? WHAT ARE THEY DOING THERE? WHY ARE THEY DYING? FOR WHOM??? FOR WHOM??? FOR WHOM???
    Colin Powell is not a man of honor. He and others like him have blood….and torture…..on their hands….to answer for. They stayed silent. They thought “safe”.
    Brave men speak out. Brave men like General Antonio Taguba and General Eric Shinseki.
    Lying…pretending…obfuscating….no longer work. We know the truth now.
    This has been a period of deep darkness and shame for this country.
    I hope it isn’t too late to….ever….get it back.


  3. William Jensen says:

    Steve, it’s good to see you are still living a pipe dream. What part of the last six years of this Adminstration don’t you understand? The Bush Administration isn’t going to do the right thing, ever. Your naivete is shocking. Colin Powell makes some sort of belated demand that Guantanamo should be shut down and you think people in power will do what he says, or that he has some sort of influence? Please, the only way Bush shuts down Guantanamo is if can figure out a way better way to infringe on the Constitution, and then blame the complainers that he had to do it becauase they wanted us to get out of Guantanamo.
    Quite trying to find common ground with these lumps of coal. People who are competent and affiliate themselves with other compentent people deserve respect. People who affiliate themselves with fools and liars should be ostracized.
    And again, quit with the Colin Powell worship. You claim Powell “probably” knew that this was a good time to talk about Guantanamo. Forgetting for a moment the speculation, assuming what you say is true, what does that say about his past silence? Evidently, his silence for six years while our foreign policy went into the toilet met with his approval.


  4. karenk says:

    It should be shut down ASAP. No need to continue, just to prove a point. Charge those people or let them go. That’s the American way.


  5. p.lukasiak says:

    “There must have been some serious tug and pull between the various power centers in the White House for an item to actually get on the schedule and then be pulled the day of the event. Heard any more inside story?”
    my guess is that the practical challenges involved in shutting down Gitmo outweigh the symbolic value of shutting it down. Gitmo isn’t a place, its a concept…and its a concept that Bushco remains attached to. Shutting down the place will only exacerbate the image problem the US has when whatever facility replaces Gitmo becomes controversial.
    At this point, I’m opposed to shutting down Gitmo, because once you shut it down the process of erasing its history becomes much easier. One hopes that the next administration has the courage to allow an international war crimes tribunal/truth commission full access to Gitmo. The American people need to know exactly what was done in their name—and the world must see the shame of the American people for allowing Gitmo to happen.


  6. carsick says:

    There must have been some serious tug and pull between the various power centers in the White House for an item to actually get on the schedule and then be pulled the day of the event. Heard any more inside story?


  7. Dennis says:

    To close Gitmo and all other U.S. torture sites is one thing. To undo the damage that they have cost to the SAFETY and to the REPUTATION of the American people is another.
    Before the unjust, unnecessary attack on Iraq, millions of Americans saw through the scheme of GWB and the oil industry. If they could see it, there is no excuse for those working in the White House, or CONGRESS, or any of the other agencies that contributed to attacking Iraq not to see it as well.
    They, like the mainstream media, instead of standing up and being counted, went along with the flow. And now, and rightly so, no one expects any better of the mainstream media nor trusts it nor trusts Congress.
    As to Colin Powell, he’s just as guilty as all the rest.
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.


  8. p.lukasiak says:

    “Powell probably knows that this was the most efficacious time to speak out.”
    In other words, craven Colin Powell got word from Gates that Gitmo was likely to be shut down, and decided to jump in front of the parade at the last minute to pretend that he should get some credit for the decision.
    This is cynical political opportunism at its most pathetic and disgusting. That Clemons continues to lionize this narcissistic coward is just another symptom of how incestuously corrupt and corrosive DC “insider” culture is to REAL American interests.


  9. clio says:

    Don’t celebrate just yet.
    It’s not that Bush won’t close Gitmo – perhaps – but what is he planning to do with the people who are there? I’d bet money on a transfer to other facilities, probably more than one, in more remote regions where press coverage will be less and access to the justice system nearly impossible.
    Based on Bush’s past actions the idea that he would begin respecting habeas or the Geneva convention is laughable.


  10. Sandy says:
    Imperial presidency declared null and void
    Bush may ignore the 4th Circuit’s stinging rebuke of his war paradigm. But his policies are losing the cloak of legality.
    By Sidney Blumenthal
    June 21, 2007 |
    “In private, Bush administration sub-Cabinet officials who have been instrumental in formulating and sustaining the legal ‘war paradigm’ acknowledge that their efforts to create a system for detainees separate from due process, criminal justice and law enforcement have failed….
    …On June 16, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, at an international conference on torture and terrorism in Ottawa, Ontario, sought to resolve the question on a moral basis.
    His disquisition consisted of a defense of Jack Bauer, the fictional hero of the torture-porn Fox TV series “24.”
    ‘Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.’
    Thus, for this conservative jurist, torture, dramatized through popular entertainment, remained the same obsession with “absolutes” as it had been during the Inquisition, which after all developed the enhanced coercive techniques used today….
    …By contrast, Bush’s stance is merely political, a raw assertion of unaccountable and unlimited power. Yet the political idea he seeks to defend — a presidency operating by fiat above the rule of law — finds itself increasingly in conflict with the American system of justice, and not only on the question of detainees and torture.
    Didyaheartheoneabout Scalia and Cheney going duck hunting? Later, Cheney shot a guy….in the face! And the guy apologized…to Cheney!
    Jack Bauer. A. Scalia of the “Supreme” Court. Darth Cheney. Torture.
    You can’t make this stuff up.
    Even Lynn Cheney….or Scooter Libby….as “novelists”!
    Recalling the old Chinese proverb…..We don’t live in “interesting” times. We live in nasty, unspeakable times.


  11. CathiefromCanada says:

    Cheney will move heaven and earth to keep Gitmo open — it is symbolic of his philosophy, his power and his control over the US government.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Powell probably knows that this was the most efficacious time to speak out.”
    Considering your semantics, what exactly is the intended result? Shutting down Gitmo? So what? Do you really think that undoes the damage? How many more gulags are these bastards running around the globe?
    The sensible “intended result” would have been the IMMEDIATE criminal prosecution of the senior leaders, both civilian and military, that permitted the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and laid the groundwork for this embarrassing and despicable prison in Guantanamo.
    Powell missed his shot. The damage is already done.


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