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CNN Inside Politics - Transcript: Guantanamo Bay


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MALVEAUX: Ed, thanks very much for following that.

Now, of course, Senator Joe Biden is one of the more vocal Democratic critics of the situation at Guantanamo Bay. I spoke earlier with the Judiciary Committee member and I asked him if he is satisfied with the military official's testimony that the majority of detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been given hearings and are properly classified.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think their explanation is accurate but it misses the point. The point is, we're in a war. We're in two wars. We're in a war dealing with terrorists who are trying to figure out how to do harm to us, and we're also in a war, a public opinion war, with 1.2 billion Muslims around the world and we're being very damaged by what is going on at Guantanamo.

So, we should figure out how we're going to win both wars, and because, to the extent that we allow the rest of the world to think we're doing things that are very bad in Guantanamo and it's exaggerated in my view what they were-is being stated about Guantanamo, it costs American lives around the world. You saw it just that one article in "Newsweek" magazine ended up with 100,000 people in the street in Pakistan, an ally. So, this is important stuff to figure out.

MALVEAUX: But, how do you square that? Because, the military officials testified today. They say, look, under the law legally we can hold these detainees in perpetuity and also, we believe we are treating them humanely. But you bring up the point that much of the rest of the world believes that this is a black hole, possibly a cesspool of abuse here. What do you do to change that image? BIDEN: That's the dilemma here. The United States being perceived as being someone who's going to hold people without a trial for the rest of their lives does not square. So, one of the questions that was raised today by a former-an Army lieutenant colonel who testified in the second panel was, look, go back to what we used to do before. Have military-it's called uniform-go by the uniform code of military justice, and deal with it the way we have dealt with this before.

But-there are options, but I don't think anything is going to be agreed upon until we have an independent commission that has the credibility to state what is going on and what should be done from here.

MALVEAUX: Now, Senator, let's talk about those options, because it was just yesterday that Secretary Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, said, really, that there is no other alternative but Gitmo. There's really no other place to put them, and I spoke with Senator John Cornyn yesterday, as well and he said, look, there's nobody who is suggesting that you put those prisoners in their state. I mean, what do you do with them? Where do you put them? I mean, Delaware?

BIDEN: I think it's not-it's not so much where you put them. It's what you do in terms of determining how long you're going to keep them. Either convict them, move them on into the system, deal with the system of the uniformed code of military justice, transparently, and make judgments about their status, and then move from there.

It's not so much the closing of Guantanamo, because there's going to be a need to keep some people some places, but it's about whether or not there is any end date. What do you think would happen if we were in a situation where there's another country holding people and they are going to say we're going to hold them in perpetuity. They are not going to have any trial other than to determine whether they're an enemy combatant. If they are determined to be an enemy combatant, then we're going to keep them the rest of their lives.

MALVEAUX: Senator, if I could quickly change the topic...

BIDEN: That doesn't work internationally.

MALVEAUX: If I could quickly change the topic for a minute-a quick question on Bolton, of course, the president's nominee for the United Nations. You and the Democratic leadership have said that you won't move forward until you get that information, the information you're seeking from the White House. The White House says it is not giving it up. How do you break that impasse?

BIDEN: Well, you don't. We just don't let them move forward. Period. Look, this is an arrogance on the part of the White House to tell the United States Senate what they're entitled and not entitled to. You will not find anybody out there other than possibly one senator who will tell you that the information we are asking for is unusual or inappropriate or is not been always given in the past.


MALVEAUX: We'll have a Republican response to Senator Biden's concerns about Guantanamo Bay from Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter. What did he take away from today's hearings? Find out next.


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