More Journamalism From David Broder (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)
More Journamalism (Time Magazine Edition)

Should Defense Secretary Gates Have Made Closing Guantánamo a Deal Breaker?

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Him Now:

New to Job, Gates Argued for Closing Guantánamo - New York Times: THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER: In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantánamo would be viewed as illegitimate, according to senior administration officials. He told President Bush and others that it should be shut down as quickly as possible.

Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantánamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said. In particular, Mr. Gates urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantánamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said. Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.

As Mr. Gates was making his case, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined him in urging that the detention facility be shut down, administration officials said. But the high-level discussions about closing Guantánamo came to a halt after Mr. Bush rejected the approach....

[O]ne senior administration official who favors the closing of the facility said the battle might be renewed. “Let’s see what happens to Gonzales,” that official said, referring to speculation that Mr. Gonzales will be forced to step down, or at least is significantly weakened, because of the political uproar over the dismissal of United States attorneys. “I suspect this one isn’t over yet.”... One official made it clear that he was willing to discuss the internal deliberations in part because of Mr. Gonzales’s current political weakness. The senior officials discussed the issue on ground rules of anonymity because it entailed confidential conversations....

Mr. Bush has repeatedly said he ultimately wants to shutter the detention operations at Guantánamo. But he has also said it is not possible to do so any time soon.... Mr. Gates’s challenge has sent a ripple through the White House, because it forced officials to confront the question of whether Mr. Bush was actually moving to fulfill his stated desire to close the detention facility. Officials who advocate shutting down Guantánamo, including some at the Pentagon and the State Department, said an underlying motivation of those who want to keep the center open is that closing it would be seen as a public admission of an incorrect policy — something the Bush administration is loath to do...

I think that Gates should have made this a deal-breaker: If Bush won't take his advice, Bush needs a different defense secretary.