August 15, 2000
Robert Gibbs comments on Guantanamo Bay. Evidently representatives from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons checked out the max security prison in Standish, Michigan as a way to get the 229 detainees out of Gitmo by Jan 21, 2010.
Administration officials have said they are looking at installations that could hold courtrooms for federal criminal trials as well as military commissions.
Federal criminal trials? That means they would be afforded rights. That happens they would then are able to address grievances as far as torture.
When asked if closing and not bringing them to the US – Gibbs said “I‘m not sure that’s going to happen before the 20th of January”.
WH Transcript 8-13
Q Robert, can I ask about the visit by these federal officials — Defense, DHS folks — to the prison in Michigan today?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q: Does that visit indicate that the administration has concluded that at the end of the day, some number of Guantanamo detainees are going to have to be housed in facilities in the United States, and that they can be done so safely and without undermining national security?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, this is a very preliminary sight survey. As I’ve said before, no final decisions about any of this has been made, as we continue to work through the caseload of existing prisoners at Guantanamo, how they can be evaluated for, as the President has talked about, bringing about swift and certain justice. For some, that may be a transfer to additional country because courts have deemed that they don’t — that they can’t be held based on evidence. Obviously, some are — some are going to be tried in either revamped military commissions, or in Article III courts. The visit to Standish is preliminary — is to do a preliminary site survey. No final decisions have been made.
Q So you really think it’s possible to — at the end of the day, that all of the other options, the non-bringing them back to America options, could eventually take care of the entire population?
MR. GIBBS: I‘m not sure that’s going to happen before the 20th of January. I think, obviously — obviously, it is our hope that each one of these is going to be evaluated for how you bring about that justice. Obviously some of that is going to take some time. I will remind you that in the intervening six or seven years, I think three people have been through — two or three people have been through some sort of loosely defined, I’m going to say, judicial process. I won’t talk about courts or what have you. So obviously, we’ve got a number of options to look at.
Q The 20th of January — what is it –
MR. GIBBS: Twenty-first of January.
Q Right. What is it that will happen by then? Might not happen by then?
MR. GIBBS: Well, whether or not each person has been moved out of Guantanamo by the 21st of January, I don’t — yes, sir.
Q I did have a question on health care. But it does seem like that would be breaking the vow, or whatever, that the President made on his first or second day in office to close Guantanamo in a year’s time? Is that what you’re saying, that that’s –
MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, no, no, no. What I’m saying is that we’re looking at options for — the President intends to maintain and keep his commitment to close Guantanamo in a year.
Q It just depends on what the meaning of the word “close” is, right?
Q But if everybody’s not out of there, how is it closed?
MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, I’m saying that — let me be — let me be — I see now where the confusion is. Obviously they’re looking at the possibility of different sites for moving those that haven’t been through a judicial process or have not been transferred or whatever out of Guantanamo. But I’m not suggesting that they would stay in Guantanamo past the 21st.
Q Whatever happens to those cases, even if they haven’t been finally disposed of, they won’t be at Guantanamo?
MR. GIBBS: Right. That’s the goal of the executive order, yes.
And then this very interesting question that prompted the end of the brefing:
Q The Southern Poverty Law Center reported yesterday detailing the rise of extremist militias in this country, and attributed largely the — to Obama’s presidency. Does the administration believe domestic terrorism poses as large a threat to the country’s integrity as to threats outside her borders?
MR. GIBBS: I would be out of my depth in — without talking to some security experts about that. Obviously the President is concerned about threats to our security wherever they may come from.