tv Closing Guantanamo Bay Prison CSPAN February 18, 2016 12:20am-2:09am EST
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plus facebook comments and tweets. journal, live every day on c-span. housing -- you can see it live at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three. c-span's coverage of the presidential candidates continues this week. our coverage of the results starts on saturday at 7:30 p.m. with candidate speeches and your reaction to the results. national security council counterterrorist director daniel rosenthal was
tasked with the
closing of guantanamo bay. in january.post he joins a panel at fordham law school in new york city.
last speakers include the reporter involved -- allowed inside, and attorneys that represent gitmo detainees. this is one hour 45 minutes. >> ok. we are going to get started. if you could take your seats if you are not seated. i want to say, before we begin, as a cautionary note, that c-span is taping this tonight. if you do not want to be on camera, you might want to move over to the sides and just keep that in mind in the q&a, although i will remind you when that happens. as you know, guantanamo is central to the work of the
center of national security. we are delighted to have yet another panel on guantanamo with some of the more thoughtful people about the issue
and many of whom have been thinking about guantanamo since the day it opened in 2002. it is hard to imagine that, when it did open, you would say, in 2016, we are going to have a panel on the place and thinking about ending it. when guantanamo was opened, there was no idea of having it last more than six months or 18 months. the pentagon would have been appalled by the idea. a number of things happened along the way which made the emptying of guantanamo, the closing of guantanamo, nearly impossible. today, we want to find out how impossible is it to close guantanamo? will it close by the end of the obama presidency? if it does close by then, what will it take? we are joined by a super panel which i and delighted to have here.
i will introduce them. to my right is wells dixon, who is from the center for constitutional rights. the thing about the center for constitutional rights is you cannot think about guantanamo without thinking about them. they were the first of the civil liberties organizations to understand the detention issue was of crucial importance. they follow this through with many of habeas cases. many of the historians write up on guantanamo and the ccr will be at the center of it. to his right is dan rosenthal. we are very lucky to have dan here. his e-mail to me when i wrote to him and asked if he could be here, he said, "four hours ago, i left my job at the white house. good timing." among the things he did was to head up thinking about guantanamo and how to get people
out of guantanamo. we are eager to hear everything you are not allowed to take -- to say. so think about that. prior to that, he worked at the doj in the national security division and a number of federal jobs related to national security. he brings good perspective and interagency perspective and a white house perspective. we know that he has the answer. so we are going to hold him to it. to his right is tom wilner. tom was one of the first people i ever talked to about guantanamo. i believe it was 2003. i called him and i said, i heard you were working on guantanamo and i do not understand anything. will you meet with me? so he did. i went to his office and he opened up a whole world for me of understanding what it meant to function in the middle east, how he had come to know about guantanamo, which is different than how the civil liberties lawyer comes to guantanamo, but
had to deal with what it meant to represent individuals from the middle east who then cared about what was happening in guantanamo. he has been there from beginning to end. he is invaluable. i am completely thrilled to have him here. to my left is janet. she has written a number of award-winning stories "rolling stone" magazine. she has written two that were important for terrorism and terrorist prosecutions domestically. one of them was on tsarnaev and another one was on isis. her recent piece, which came out this month, is on guantanamo and i just cannot wait to hear her. she is a newcomer to the conversation and has done a wonderful job of covering her bases and trying to understand what is going on. to her left is carol rosenberg. it is hard to think that anybody
would want to do a panel on guantanamo without having carol. i would advise against it. i once had a phone call with carol years ago. we can still remember the beginning of guantanamo. she said, you know, when i went to guantanamo for those first detainees coming off the plane, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the first time that i was in a place where there were not going to be cameras. there was going to be nobody to tell the story. i was actually the camera. my words were going to be the camera. that stuck with me as a metaphor for the larger, carol's eyes have been the only set of eyes. that includes the military and the detainees and the entire apparatus. the only set of eyes that we have had at guantanamo from the
very beginning. i do not know if it will be until the end, but to this point, to our thinking about the end in a realistic way. i am delighted to have this panel. we are going to start with wells, who will talk a little bit about how we are going to close it. wells: i am going to give you the answer right now. first of all, thank you for inviting me to join the panel. you know, is guantanamo owing to close by the end of the administration? that is the question everyone wants to know the answer to. my answer is, i hope so and it depends. it depends very much on the president. the moment is now. i think the moment has been every day since he got into office. but it depends on what he does in the next year. he has always had legal authority to close the prison. that is a view that we have had
throughout his administration. yet what we have seen is a lack of willingness to use all of that authority and to use it in a bold and even aggressive way to close the prison. i can give you many examples going back to 2009. one of the earliest examples was when the president balked at bringing the weigers to the united states. these missed opportunities continue until now. ultimately, two things have to happen. two things that the president has to do to close the prison. one is, he needs to get his own house in order. he needs to get all the agencies in his administration moving in the same direction to implement his mandate to close the prison. there is a dynamic that exists now. i think everyone is aware of it if you follow this issue. the state department is trying to transfer people.
the defense department is obstructing and delaying this at times. that needs to end. that needs to come from the president. the second thing is there need to be fundamental policy changes. as an outsider, it seems like the administration continues to adhere to policies that, in some instances, never made any sense. for example, the resumption of the military commission system. or policies that may be made sense in 2003 or 2006 or 2009 but do not make sense anymore. for example, the continuing effort by the justice department to fight legal challenges to their detention. it does not make sense in a lot of cases. there is a dynamic that occurs now, still. i will give you one example in terms of litigation. a colleague of mine at the center represents a yemeni man
who is 74 pounds. he has been detained for eight years. he could die in guantanamo at any moment. he has been cleared for release for many years. we filed a legal challenge to his detention, like he needs to be transferred under the geneva convention. that sets in motion a machinery. what happens is, by default or by policy, the administration gears up to fight that case. the justice department goes into litigation mode. they go to fight that case. there needs to be someone to step in and say, wait a second. why are we doing this? maybe this does not make sense anymore. why do we want to fight to keep a person in guantanamo? by the way, he is 74 pounds. from the outside, what it looks
like is happening is you have this fight through the interagency system and maybe it gets kicked up to the white house, but ultimately, it gets kicked back down to the agencies. so he is still in guantanamo. that is not the way to close guantanamo. that is not an approach to guantanamo policy that is going to succeed in getting everyone out of prison. and cases like his are the easy cases. the state department has been making great strides in transferring the men who are cleared. they made a number of transfers this month, including two today. they have been doing a great job. those are the easy cases. there are other categories of men who present difficult challenges in terms of closing the prison. the men in the indefinite detention category. nonetheless, there are, at this moment -- there is nothing
really being done to get those men out of guantanamo. there is a periodic review board process that tries to determine whether these men can be cleared for transfer. the process is moving slowly and it will not be complete by the end of this year. it will not be complete by the end of the obama administration. that has to change. then you have prosecutions. there are 10 people who have charges against them right now or who have been already convicted. you know, you see a very similar scenario. as an outsider, from a policy perspective, you have a preference for military commissions rather than prosecutions. it seems to us to be a holdover from the failed effort to bring the 9/11 defendants to new york several years ago.
from that point on, there does not seem to have been any appetite to try to transfer men out of commissions or to bring to federal court or even to bring new charges in federal court. i will say it again. the president has the power, in our view, to do some of these things. in terms of federal court, there are possible avenues to bring people to federal court if that is the thing that needs to happen. again, just one specific example -- there are detainees in guantanamo who i suspect would plead guilty in federal court. people who are now uncharged. people like abu zabeda. i suspect he would be willing to plead guilty. i do not know if anyone has ever asked him. if one tunnel is going to be closed, you have to deal with cases like that that are more difficult cases.
gua more difficult than the men who were transferredntanam today. i just do not see any progress in that regard. we do not see any movement in that direction. we see continuing preference for military commissions. we are losing ground on military commissions. the charges brought on a number of these men are being struck down. you are losing ground. i do not shed a tear for those lost charges, but the president is not taking the necessary steps to do something about the situation. we saw, at the very end of december, the president's last press conference when he said we are going to continue to work with congress to try to change the law. in our view, that is naive if not outright delusional.
the president faces the worst congress that he has ever faced in terms of trying to change policy. that cannot be the strategy for closing guantanamo. karen: what power does he have? if congress has passed a law which says you cannot transfer detainees to the united states, what is the power that you think he has to be able to do this? what can he do? wells: i think there are all sorts of avenues that he can pursue and explore. there are questions of statutory interpretation. if someone pleads guilty, are they subject to these laws? there are scenarios that have been discussed which the president could potentially make decisions about himself or go to court, potentially, to get rulings on the constitutionality of some of these issues.
there are many avenues that can be explored from a legal perspective. i do not think any of those have been tried. and that is the point. you can miss 100% of the shots you don't take. if the president does not try to take some bold action, then he is not going to succeed. karen: that puts the spotlight on you, dan. daniel: my apologies in advance. karen: that was not a positive review. you know, constantly, you cannot write about the idea of closing guantanamo without saying president obama promised on his second day in office that he was going to close guantanamo within a year. we do not have to give in to the reasons that he was not able to do that or decided not to prioritize that, but the real question is, is wells right? has he dropped the ball?
i know you are not going to say this, but has the white house dropped the ball? have they picked up the ball and are running with it and we just don't appreciate it? daniel: first of all, thanks very much for having me and thanks to all of you for coming. the closure of guantanamo is a very important issue and it is great that people are focusing on it. i want to say at the outset that i no longer work for the administration. the views i expressed today are my own. they are not necessarily the white house views, but they are informed by my time there. i do have a slightly more rosy picture than wells does from my time in the white house. i saw people at the white house, the dod, the state department, and the other national security agencies, national security, the justice department, the intelligence community working very hard to try to close gitmo. during my time there, we transferred new the 40
detainees, which is a huge uptick in the amount of transfers that have taken place. 10 were transferred last week. two, as noted, were transferred today. there is definitely an uptick in the amount of transfers. that is for the category of people who were already cleared for release and have been cleared for release for a number of years. karen: and then there is the indefinite detention list. daniel: right. just backing up for a little bit of context. there is what we call the "currently ineligible for transfer." the idea is that they not be detained indefinitely. there are periodic review boards that review their case. that has an incredibly high success rate. i do not know the exact percentage, but something like 80%.
so that is a great rate. we are taking people who are currently ineligible for transfer. the prb process is determined that they can be transferred. then they are being teed up for a transfer. that is going to whittle down a number of people that wells was talking about. what do you do with these guys who remained too dangerous to transfer but you want to continue to close the base? in terms of the slowness or the delay, wells said there is an obstruction at dod. i am not inside the head of everyone who works at dod. the people with whom i have worked are working hard to implement the president's policy. in some ways, i see this as a difficult problem. the state department has its own perspective. the state department negotiates
agreements with foreign governments. because of that perspective, they are incentivized to work quickly and aggressively to try to finalize transfers. the dod does not have the same diplomatic pressure. they have a statutory pressure. there is a statute that places the requirement on the secretary of defense and says that he may not use funds to fund the provision. he may not use funds appropriated by congress to transfer a detainee until he concludes that they can be safely transferred. rightly, in my view, they take their time and they are very careful to make sure that every detainee who is presented for transfer meets the statutory requirement. so that is the high level sense of where things are. wells started talking about the overall plan for closing gitmo. i think it is similar to the things we have been talking about.
transfer people who you can transfer, whittle down the list. as the administration has said, the government is looking at facilities in the united states. the idea of transferring the remaining detainees, to transfer them to the united states where we continue to explore for them whether any other options are available. maybe it is an article three prosecution. maybe there is another country they can go to under stricter conditions. karen: wells made reference to the military commissions going backwards instead of forwards. something that i think has a lot of validity in terms of the erosion of charges that can be brought and the inability to get through the pretrial hearings, let alone to actually mount a trial. we are looking at years, it seems like, even for the 9/11 defendants, who seem to be the most important defendants in the
country to try. do you think that is a widely held view in washington, that the military commissions are going backwards? or was wells right when he said there seems to be a believe in the military commissions just to say we had general martin's here last year to talk about the military commissions. when you read his -- what he says in his public statements, what you see is a feeling that they are going to work someday, somehow. i am curious what you think the general sense -- not just in washington, but in the administration -- is about the viability of the military commissions going forward. daniel: i want to differ to what the general says because he is in charge of executing that portion of this process. i think the military commissions
are tough. it is an untested legal regime. the court is constantly faced with novel questions. that, in an article three context, would not necessarily be novel. that slows things down. my own musing, i do not know a lot about the commissions, but i wonder if some of the delays are caused by the detainees themselves and their lawyers, who are filing all sorts of challenges. i love wells' view, but if the true idea was i want to get through my military commission, i wonder if that can happen more expeditiously without success of challenges. karen: i think everyone is going to want to address that. we are going to come back to that. before wells answers that, let's go to tom, who can give the first answer to that. i think that is going to be much of what we talk about afterwards. we have not heard the term "gitmo bar" in a while. but is that somewhat responsible? tom, you have been involved in
the theoretical legal part of this throughout the entire legal regime. but you also have a sense of what is going on, particularly in your work now. do you think it is going to close? tom: i am going to be like a politician and answer the question that i want to answer. first, let me answer something dan said. you have got to remember -- let me give some facts. we have 91 people left at guantanamo, which is down significantly. of those, only 10 are in the military commission system. only 10 of these people. so we are talking about a minority. three of those have been convicted. or have pled. there is no doubt in my mind
that the lawyers are trying to gujm up th eworks. all of the lawyers wanted military commissions rather than civilian trials because they knew they could gum it up. that is what you do as a civilian lawyer. that me talk about other things that are more important. first of all, dan, congratulations on the work you did. one of the great problems with the obama administration is the white house cannot take charge of this problem until recently. you have been there for a year and in a year, you did a lot of good things. you got a lot of people out. i think the white house before that put it off to the state department or someone else who did not take charge centrally. i am worried now that you have left because you were clearly pushing this through. let me talk more about -- the great problem of guantanamo, to me, is not the people we charge
with crimes, but the people we hold without charging a crime. you can do that during a hostility, to hold people. a lot of these people have just been there for years. as i said, of the people there, of the 91, 10 are in military commissions. 34 of them have been cleared, most of them for years, but they have not been let out. one of the reasons is a lot of them are yemenis and it is hard to find them a home. now we are finding them homes and that is great. i am more concerned about this other category that we call indefinite detention. when the obama administration did its review, they put them in a term called "too dangerous to release but not capable of prosecution." it is a false fact which has dominated political discussions. that categorization gives the
impression that these guys -- that the government knows that they are terribly dangerous killers, but some technicality is preventing them from being released. it is not true. it was a terrible characterization of them. for the most part, these people are held because there are allegations against them by other detainees while they were in detention. there are all sorts of reasons. in a lot of the cases, these are people who got rewards or who made allegations under pressure. at most, if you read the allegations -- and jennifer is here, who pointed this out to me years ago -- if you compare them against each other, you will see that a lot of the allegations are absolutely -- the legal term we would use is "bullshit." [laughter] they really are. congress assumes that these
people are dangerous killers. if we look at the facts, they are not so. as dan was pointing out, they have what they call a prb process to review them. when it reviews them, it is, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, finding that these guys are not dangerous and can be released. the tremendous problem is that the administration has not put the resources in to do the process probably enough. how many are scheduled now? eight? they will not finish before the end of the year. it will not finish under the current schedule for four or five years or 10 years. that is not enough. the larger picture, and until we do, we will be holding a lot of innocent men. a lot of the intelligence reports about them are just crazy. they are not credible.
yet they are given a presumption of reliability and validity. they have got to be looked at. let me talk in an overall picture and then i will shut up. guantanamo is terribly important to this country. i am worried about the people there and i want to treat them well and i want them home. more than that, i am worried about what it means to the country. guantanamo was established to avoid the law. the whole purpose of guantanamo -- the bush administration considered the law an impediment that it had to avoid. and said, we can keep foreigners in a place that is technically outside our territory so we can avoid review by the courts and deprive them of legal rights. unfortunately, although we won the right to habeas corpus, the constitutional right, the d.c. circuit has said that they still don't have the rights of due process.
if the government can put them there, they are beyond the reach of the constitution. that is a horrible thing for this country. it is a horrible loophole. i find it reprehensible. i not only want the people home, i want the law corrected so the united states can advise principles and be proud of them and not try to avoid them. karen: can i ask you this one question? the category you were talking about, the indefinite detention, there used to be more categories. they used to be the category of not the people that have been charged, but the people they thought were going to be tried by military commissions. where did that category go? is that what happened, they got moved? daniel: i just think it is how you slice it up and how you want to look at it. if you want to look at the proximity of the detainee to release -- we are talking about
closing guantanamo, so it seems like that is what we are trying to figure out. it seems that the best three buckets to talk about our ones who are in queue to the release. the detainees who are not yet queued to be released but might get there. you can think of it in other ways. when the eotf got together in 2009 and 2010 and looked at each detainee and said, what bucket are they in, they also considered other things, like people we may be able to prosecute. karen: so there are still people in guantanamo, maybe in that indefinite detention category or not yet released category, who might be tried in some kind of court? tom: as i understand, no. daniel: i think there are probably detainees at guantanamo who, back in 2009, had been
identified for potential prosecution. and they are still there. i do not know if they are in the now eligible for release category. maybe they have shifted over because of the prb or they might be in the indefinite detention category. part of the government's plan that they are releasing publicly is to transfer what you can. and for the remainder, to look at the individual detainee and try to identify individualized options for them. which may include prosecution if that is feasible. karen: interesting. ok. so janet -- do not get upset when i say this -- is a newcomer to the conversation. even if we do not know each other personally, we know of
each other. we have followed each other's work for a long time. there is a general sharing of what tom said, which is that it is so insulting to the world law law to manyke of people to have people in guantanamo and to have indefinite detention. janet comes on the scene and decides it would be a good idea to write about guantanamo. she has been writing about terrorism prosecutions in the united states. she called a number of people to talk about it. one of the people she called was me. it was so interesting, her piecing this together by herself and being surprised by things that the rest of us were sort of talking about for years. my question to you, if you can kind of go back there, you went to guantanamo, you figured out the situation, what were the things that really surprised you? even though we have a vibrant
press about it, we are still just, you know? janet: first of all, i see john, who is one of our colleagues at "rolling stone" occasionally. he is the person who urged me to go to guantanamo three or four years ago. so i have to say thank you. i was trying to get my editors to say yes to this idea for years. when they finally did say yes, the idea was, how is this place still open? this terrible remnant of 9/11, in a way. what surprised me about it was how 9/11 still exists. it is a place where the september 11 mindset pretty much never dies. i am trying to think. it is kind of a fake war zone. you arrive there and it is dusty.
there are tents. you arrive on a ferry and drive down this dusty hill into this place that looks like a forward operating base, for anyone who has ever covered a war, which i have. i was appalled by this. i covered the iraq war. i had been in other conflicts prior to that. guantanamo is suburbia. like any naval base, any military base out there, these are bases, no matter if they are here in the united states or if they are here -- rather, anywhere, that are kind of built as americas. that is normal. that is how it military installation works. they all have fast food restaurants. they all have movie theaters. so that, which is always portrayed in stories about gitmo, is so bizarre. it is actually not that bizarre. what is bizarre is that there are these two pockets of the base that are very separate from
one another. the other which carol has designated as the dissension zone. by the way, everyone on this panel was in my article. these are all my sources. and a few of you in the audience, too. so thanks. so you have these two pockets and those places are the ward. i was covering iraq in 2004 and 2005. it was like the war. you drive in and there is high-security. you cannot take victors. you live in these tents and it is dusty and everyone is in their camo. the entire mindset is -- i should go back and say that in iraq and afghanistan, the
military and the united states officials that are part of the operation, they live in these secure, bunker-like settings. this is very high-security. you do not venture out into the real country that you are in. in gitmo, you are in high security settings, too. you have badges that you must wear when you are inside of -- whether you are in camp justice or the detention center area, you have special badges. you are not supposed to wear them when you go to lunch, the cafeteria, or go to the gym, where you can workout on a very nice treadmill and then take a sauna. you can literally go and take a shower in this beautiful facility. that would be like anybody's gym anywhere, but nicer. you, as a reporter for human rights monitor or, in many cases, a lawyer, must stay in a
tent where you have showers in a tent. the bathrooms are also in a tent. it is like this bizarre disconnect of modern american life set up for this infrastructure of 4000 or so naval personnel and contractors and 2000 or so military guys who are just attached to the gitmo that we think of, who live in a different world. and the reporters that we go -- they go and cover this must live in that world. that is one thing that is surprising. the second thing that is surprising is that -- the people who cover -- excuse me, the people who are posted at gitmo in terms of the detention and the legal operation there, they are our national guard troops.
i do not want to offend them because these are well-meaning people. they are very naïve and very ignorant. this is, i think, a purposeful thing. there is no institutional memory of guantanamo at all. the reason for that is because the people who have been posted there are on nine-month deployment. most are not professional soldiers. so they don't even have -- some of them have deployed to iraq and afghanistan. a number of them, i think, have, but in very limited capacities. many of them have not. this is the only time they would ever serve in the military in any kind of active context from their real-life job, which ranges from being a prison guard to being a taxi driver to being completely unemployed to being this one lovely public affairs officer who is an eighth grade high school teacher, english teacher. to them, this is there one shot
at serving their country. and they know absolutely nothing about the history of guantanamo at all. most of them are very young. 22, 23. there was one kid that i was spending time with and he was taking me on a tour of the detention area, including cap x-ray, the infamous place where the prisoners were originally taken in 2002. they were not there for very long, but that is where they had the dog cages. it is now really overgrown. he was taking me on a tour. like these are outside cages and there are like vines. it is like a jungle. he is taking me to these interrogation sheds that are made out of wood. having covered other things, i said this is kind of like abu ghraib, because it is. the setup of it and the history of it, guantanamo, the general
who set the whole place up and then went and took this set up and mindset and everything to abu ghraib. this was also exported to other countries and u.s. operations. i made the joke to him that this is kind of abu ghraib-y, and he looked at me like i did not know what i was talking about. i said, do you know anything about this. he said, in our security training, they told us to never take pictures. he did not really know what it was. he knew abu ghraib kind of. he knew to do not take pictures. but the whole history, the reason that abu ghraib was such -- those practices started at guantánamo.
very well-documented, right? torture. you have all kinds of reports of abuses. 14 years of writing on this, which everybody else on this panel is an expert on, but that ignorance -- he had no idea about that. he did not know any of that history. after a day or two, some of these kids that we were spending our time with were basically trying to learn from us. we were teaching them about their own american history, which is something that no one can say, well, i am really happy that i am on this tour with you. i get to learn the things that you are learning. i said, i am not learning anything. you need to read the story that i write and maybe you will learn something.
the point of it is this is an intentional thing. in my view, you have troops on very short deployments who do not have any idea of who they are guarding. they do not want to know. they are told not to know. they are terrified of the people they are guarding. they think they are dangerous criminals. they think they are criminals. the point of guantanamo and the thing that is so un-american about it, as tom talked about a lot, they have not been charged for the most part. 10 of them are in the military commissions process. the rest of them have not been charged with a crime. they certainly have not been convicted of a crime. so it is horrific, as a reporter, that this is a prison -- you know, you are reporting on a prison that the military is very proud of. they will tell you endlessly how awesome their facilities are and how this is modeled after such
and such high-security facility in the midwest somewhere, in indiana. the point is, these people have never been charged with a crime. they are just detained. they are interred there and have been for 14 years. the fact that everyone who was charged with watching them, handling them, promoting their work there does not have a clue about this, is not really connected to it, does not ask a question about it. and seemingly does not really think very deeply about it. it is super highly disturbing. the last thing i would say is that all of that set up -- and i have written a very long article, so i am trying to sum up this article in as short a time as i can. and it was much longer originally. every aspect of one's visit to
gitmo is designed, as carol will talk about, for somebody like me, who is a newcomer and does not have a history there. i have no history either. i just know the facts because i have covered this stuff for a long time and i am an adult, so i remember 9/11. i know what has happened since 9/11. i am not 22 any longer. sadly. but the place is set up for people who know nothing. so the government or the military can kind of promote the same narrative, whatever the narrative is that they want to promote, which is that this is a transparent, safe, humane operation. that they are treating everybody well. that this is not some horrible place. it is not abu ghraib. it is not the gitmo that we remember from the mid to thousands.
nobody is being tortured. you will hear that over and over again. it is all clean, safe, etc., and we are doing a really professional, good job here. we want to show you what a good job we are doing. everything about it is set up for this message. when you do a tour of the detention facility in particular, you are rushed through it in a way that leaves barely any time to ask serious questions, and a trading questions. if you do ask any serious questions, you get in trouble. which happened to me. the most crucial aspect of this is this is about however many prisoners there are. there are now 93, 91. ok. when i was there, there were 107. i do not care if there is 20. i personally think, and journalistically, that it is worth reporting on people who
have never been charged with a crime and are interred by the united states government for 14 years. that is an important story. no matter if it is three people. so their entire purpose is to not show you those prisoners. the most disturbing aspect of gitmo is that tremendous suffering happened at this place. it is a very disturbing -- you get this vibe that makes you really uncomfortable and you do not quite know why. there is this banality about the way everyone is naïvely unable to answer your questions. it is set up in this very banal, clean, and deceptive kind of environment. yet there are people there who have been there for a long time who have not -- who have no idea when and if they will ever go home.
who have no idea when or if they will ever be put on trial. most of them will not be. and that is its own sort of purgatory. and that is its own sort of torture, i think. i think the torture of being cleared for release from gitmo in 2005 or something and then not being released for the next however many years, that is torturous. and those are very important points. when you bring these points up, there is no one in the military who will answer those questions for you, will engage with you on those points. and you cannot see anyone who is detained at guantánamo except for maybe five minutes, 10 minutes. it is part of the tour and you see them in this communal area. these are only detainees who are compliant. they are the ones who have not caused any trouble.
they are not the high-value people. they are not ksm, not anyone who has been charged with a crime or considered a high-value prisoner. the experience of it is you look at them through this glass and it is a one-way glass. it is like you are looking at animals in the zoo. you cannot interview them. people would ask me and even our fact checkers would be like, did you get to interview them? i laughed because it is such a ridiculous question. no, journalists cannot interview anyone interred in guantánamo, even though lawyers, like wells has said many times, he would love me to interview his clients. the clients would be thrilled to talk to reporters, but you cannot. the entire kind of experience of the place is forgetting.
forget that we found a place that is an extra legal no man's land. it is the legal equivalent of outer space, is help someone in the bush administration phrase it. forget that. or get that the place is not necessarily legal. forget that these people may not have committed a crime. forget that most of them were rounded up not on the battlefield, but were handed over in many cases by fellow tribesmen, lots of other forces, foreign governments. forget that they have not been charged with anything and that they have existed in this kind of endless limbo. and just focus instead on the idea that president obama wants
to close guantánamo and we are going to carry out his policy whenever that happens. and i told them we are going to treat the detainees as fairly and humanely as possible. that is outrageous. karen: what we have standing between us and forgetting is carol rosenberg, who refuses to let us forget. i do not know if that is a curse or a blessing. that job. because somebody has to be there to do it. one of the things i am glad you brought up and one of the things that wells and tom have dealt with and many of the attorneys is the detainees themselves. i am astonished by these policy conversations that will mention the detainees, but not talk about who these people are, that they have been in detention for so long. every now and then, someone will have a filming about them. they will be interviewed. the footage of omar being
questioned and returning to canada, he said, is overwhelming emotionally. i am disturbed by the fact that there is no human element. carol, i know you have tons to say and i want you to say whatever you want. but i want to talk about how you kept having -- there was always something new. the guidebook that shows you what to tell visitors when they come here. how many times one tunnel has changed while you have been there and what it has meant for you. but in addition to what you are going to answer. carol: first of all, i wanted to say -- no self-respecting reporter wants to be a problem in a pentagon talking point about transparency.
that really is the contract you make when you go to gitmo. they let you there so they can say it is transparent. i'm going to say straight from the start, janet was the last person allowed in the detention center. this is a tremendous problem. not janet is a problem, it is a problem that they no longer allow reporters inside the detention center to look at the detainees. it is not a comfortable thing. to feel like you are at the zoo looking through one-way glass. in the absence of being able to have reporters going in, talking to guards, seeing conditions, engaging with people in the detention center, we really do not know what is going on there. i think some strange things have gone on. if you look at the coverage of what we have heard from some of the lawyers, there is some very big questions about why lawyers have to buy detainees footwear in a detention center that, at this moment, if you do the most
dramatic crunch of what it costs, it works out to $4.4 million a detainee per year. i don't necessarily agree with that, but i can see how they got there. we can talk about how they can do that math. i did my own study and do not necessarily agree with everything they threw in the pot. but the budget that causes the guantánamo detention center to exist and supports soldiers and contractors and civilians, if you take all of the costs associated with that and the commissions and you divide it by, as of yesterday, 91 detainees, you would reach, at this moment, $24.4 million. that is the contract you make when you go to guantánamo. it is not comfortable.
people have to constantly push to get meaningful answers to hard questions and to see meaningful things when i go down there. sometimes i like to talk about the story of karen going down there because i love that story. there was a point when they stopped showing her anything she was interested in seeing. i tell that story. i had not met karen before. i was shocked. she was basically being led around on a tour that ceased to give her the subject matter she needed and she said, take me to my room and pick me up when it is time for me to go to the plane. we call that chutzpah. every time, i have to try to push as hard as i can to get answers for questions. what i like about karen's questions, it appeals to the geek in me. the question is, who are the people that should be tried? in 2009 and 2010, this task force, using intelligence that
we now know to be terribly flawed, categorized people into different buckets. one of the buckets were people referred for prosecution. asawa, who left yesterday after going through the parole board and is now starting his life in bosnia, was on that list to be prosecuted. it became clear, as they worked their way from that task force, the parole board hearing, there was nothing they could sustain to prosecute him for. we could have an entire panel on war crimes that are not war crimes. war crimes that were once thought to be war crimes and are no longer. to which i wanted to just say to dan, i have been hearing since
the first commissions that the defense attorneys are the reasons why people -- the reasons why there are delays. and that they seem to derail the process. what i know is that the defense attorneys motions that seem to derail the process went to the supreme court and concluded that the process, at that moment, the beginning, was illegitimate. that defense attorneys who filed motions that challenged the integrity of military commissions have been reshaping military commissions throughout this. crimes that were once considered crimes are no longer considered crimes. the reason that those 36 people who were chosen as candidates for prosecution cannot be prosecuted is the crimes that they considered possibly
legitimate in 2009, the court thought they might take them are no longer available. what you have is this parole board working their way through people who were once thought to be possibly candidates for war crimes trials who are no longer eligible because it does not fit into the paradigm of what a military commission is. and what they like to call the detention bucket. i think they are very distinct foreign prisoners. these are people who were told we think you committed a crime and we are going to let you have your day in court and you can defend yourself. it is not the forever prisoners who were told, we do not think you committed a crime, but we do not feel good about letting you go. we are afraid of you and we are going to keep you here. they are two very distinct categories. what we know as we have studied the commissions, there are probably six people who might be tried. the rest of them have been systematically either moved out of that bucket -- one of them, maybe two of them went back to kuwait. a lot have been released in
different fashions who were once considered candidates for a trial. lots of them have not gone before the parole board. the idea that it is not going to be finished by the time that obama leaves office is true, but frankly, the parole board that obama set up said that everyone gets one in the first year and then they get every six months reviewed. they have not, in any way, accomplished the meaning of the parole board. ok. and then the subject of, is guantanamo going to close? when president obama ran, when he campaigned and said he wanted to close guantanamo, it was fairly clear he said we were going to try people or lets them
go. he believed that what bush had set up was somehow illegitimate. that people were entitled to trials or release. what happened in the first year of the process, they realized there was another category of prisoner. people that they do not want to try, they know that they cannot try, but are afraid to let go. once you have that category. we call them the forever prisoners. they are prisoners of a war that does not have a mechanism to end. if you do not have someone to surrender on the other side and to end this war on terror, how do you send home prisoners of that war? when does that war end?
we call it guantanamo north miami herald. the detention centers, we come up with these expressions to explain complicated processes. guantanamo north means you can shut down that zone, you can send home all the national guard. but there will be people they want to bring to the united states and have guantanamo style detention. we know what the plan is.
we have not seen all of the bits of the plan. they want to continue to have commissions and forever prisoners, prisoners of war that are not entitled to p.o.w. that number is shrinking. the only way that this can happen in barack obama's administration is if he persuades congress to let him do it or he decides he has the authority to defy congress, and will pick them up and move them. those are the two choices. we have heard on the panel, some people believe he has the authority. we have not heard from the president whether he believes he has that specific authority. he believes congress'
prohibitions on him moving people to the u.s. are at odds with his commander-in-chief authority. he believes the executive has the prerogative to do that. we have seen that in his writings. that is how guantanamo closes. it is by moving it. the only way it gets moved is there is some grand political deal that suddenly all of the members of congress and the senate who love to demagogue the issue of guantanamo change their mind and say fine, let them come here. or he comes up with a way to move them without permission of congress, and possibly without the knowledge of congress. as we talked about earlier, when he goes to move them, invoking his commander-in-chief authority, it's likely ends up in the courts. then the courts gets to decide whether or not the
commander-in-chief authority trumps the congressional authority. i don't know if there is enough time for that to work its way through the courts. how's that? karen: it depends on how you define "close," right? one thing that carol touched upon that i want to turn to you attorneys about -- if the detainees did come here. if obama found a way, there are a number of people that would say who would make that bargain? a number of defense attorneys making that bargain because they think there is a way into the legal system at that point. can you talk about that? >> sure. with respect to whether detainees would be better off in the u.s. versus remaining in
guantánamo -- all i can say about that, as someone who represents men that are detained, is that it depends. it is a detainee by detainee issue. they thought they would get a better shot through habeas, because they would have full constitutional rights. there are others who are not sure that would have any practical benefit for them. for some, there is a more practical concern, which is conditions of confinement. there is a lot of talk when we hear about the plan and bringing detainees to the u.s. for continued detention without charge or trial, with that, there is talk about putting these men in super max prisons. these are men not convicted of
crimes. you hear members of congress talking about putting them in super max prisons. carol also mentioned the grand bargain. one of the concerns about a grand bargain that ultimately was not enacted was a plan put forth by senator graham, which included a limitation on detainee rights, and attempt to roll back some of their habeas corpus rights. ultimately to prevent challenges to conditions of confinement. this idea that when order to sell detainee transfers to the u.s., the investigation will have to put them into solitary confinement or something
equivalent. that would be completely unlawful. we would challenge that on behalf of our clients. there would be an added piece to that, intending to strip those rights. again, there are some detainees absolutely willing to take that shot. i know tom has views on this. karen: let's turn to tom. he described guantanamo has created to be outside the law, which very few would dispute. outerspace does have laws, so it's even worse. bringing them to the u.s., would in essence, enable lawyers to
bring this with inside the law? tom: i do. i will answer that directly. [laughter] let me go back a moment to what carol said. then i'll come to this. carol, there is an assumption people make that this category of forever detainees are people that we know should be held, or fought in some war, but you cannot prosecute them. the reason they cannot prosecute them is because there is no evidence that would stand up in a court of law. most are allegations against people, which raises suspicions they would've been associated with al qaeda or taliban. mostly at a low level. it is precisely the sort of non-evidence that people --
everybody could be suspicious. under our system, you can't hold people based on suspicion. it's not that they know that they are terrorists. i use the b.s. category, but the allegations are so flimsy, they wouldn't not stand up. karen: and the support in that argument you make are in the numbers. 48 when the task force created them, then they have systematically peeled that label. currently 25 them, but 2 of them died. do the math. the category was labeled inappropriate, just like enemy combatants that were reevaluated. they were no longer enemy combatants. i'm not defending it-- i'm explaining the existence of the category. your argument is bolstered by
the fact that people are put in a category that are no longer. tom: the view is holding people based on suspicion, which is inaccurate to our entire system. i have long felt -- early on in the obama administration, there was a question to move them to thompson in illinois. it was opposed by a lot of people. i supported it because as one of the guys involved in guantánamo, the whole reason for its existence was to avoid the law. it was to create a zone outside the law. a zone where you can hold people based only on suspicion. carol: the intention of thompson was to continue that on u.s. soil. tom: the reason they don't have
constitutional rights are because they are outside u.s. territory. he second they are in the u.s., they have those rights. if they were here, they would have been out. carol: when senator mccain says he wants a plan, he wants a plan that continues to assert -- tom: i don't understand why people -- congress doesn't have the right to violate the constitution. they revoke habeas corpus. the constitution -- there is no way that these people can be held without charge based on suspicion consistent with due process. wells is right. the reason we have not had that, it makes us totally dependent on the bush and obama administration. we have not had a legal remedy. it is awfully late. it would take a few years to do it. i hope we get them out before them. the important thing is a legal
remedy. i would like to reestablish, i think the vast that the d.c. circuit has said that those at guantánamo don't have due process, it is appalling. can i raise another question to you? the issue at guantánamo, is a security panel, we may be talking to the choir here. everybody might agree with us, but a lot of people in this country feel that we need a place outside the law to deal with terrorism. they feel that we need torture. i ask you, my feeling has always been that we don't. that ultimately it hurts us. we are much better off, and are stronger by sticking to our principles. i don't know why we always abandon them. from a security standpoint, most people in the country think we need a little torture. i might not like it, but i like this place were we can put muslims where there is no law.
we have to address that issue. i think it is the wrong issue. >> don't you think torture is underlying everything about guantánamo? that was my conclusion after interviewing all of you. that tortue is why the prosecutions are not able to go forward. it's why no one can answer your questions. it's why, just as a person who is observing, it's why the place is so deeply uncomfortable. it's the original shame, crime that happened there. it is this terrible thing. karen: it is not so much that it happened there. but it is that it happened in a way that affected those cases.
i don't know if it is in every case, but it is the symbol of how far this can go when you get outside the law. i think they are connected. the thing about guantánamo that tom raises interestingly about evidence. we hear this all the time, why are you trying these guys? we don't have enough evidence to try them. sometimes, it's because the evidence was gained through torture. tom: not just torture-- karen: i know that. in some cases, it's just that they don't have evidence. tom: we might suspect them a little bit. carol: it's that they don't think they are criminals in some sense. they are war prisoners. karen: i want to bring dan in here to enlighten us. [laughter] >> i think dan has been happy.
karen: but a lot of things have been talked about here that are in uncomfortable territory. in those national security council white house discussions, were these kinds of issues raised or debated? were the detainees thought about? was it considered so intractable, or was it narrowed for the purpose of practicality? you don't have to answer. you could answer in the way tom answers. [laughter] dan: it's a good question. people are disgusted at the individual detainee level. the treatment is disgusting. folks who represent the
detainees and other human rights groups have met with the white house and white house officials. it is something that we are focused on, even as we focus on the greater policy. one of the reasons the president wants to close guantánamo, it is a proving ground for terrorism. the orange jumpsuits, the individuals executed by isis were put in orange jumpsuits. that reflects back on the orange jumpsuits of the early day of guantanamo bay. there is no question that's one of the motivating factors. it has this stain on it. people on this panel are calling
it tortue. those were prohibited by president obama upon coming into office. we don't treat detainees that way. the focus should be less on how the media treats it. more focused on how the detainees are treated. i would let the defense department talk about detainee treatment. that is the focus. it is a focus for the administration. >> but detainee treatment at this point is a talking point. they won't talk about it in meaningful substance because it has entered the courts.
i want to ask a question. wells says that maybe obama went off the rails. >> that was the earliest point, certainly a defining moment. carol: i'm wondering what the administration thinks was the moment they lost the momentum. which they clearly have decided they are going to try and regain. we are in a period of an absolute drive towards that. there is a plan coming. 16 people are left. in the administration view, where did it go off the rails? >> i don't speak for the administration, so i can't answer that question. carol: so in your view -- [laughter] as not an administration
advocate. i should not have ask you about the administration. when did it go wrong? >> it went wrong early. in the archives speech, we already knew we were in the wrong place. that is four months after taking office. after obama took office, they were the first truly serious attacks against u.s. soil in the first 11 months after he came into office that we had seen since 9/11. in that time, a lot of things happened. that had not happened in such a profound way by the archives speech. i don't know what happened. you and i have both interviewed a lot of people on this. one of the things that happened was, as you've reported, collecting the information on these individuals, which hadn't
been done prior, to make the statement we are going to close guantanamo, without knowing we did not have the information, may have been one of the first. carol: i think they were shocked when they opened the files, how unreliable some of the information was. dan: in terms of where it went off the rails, it was an evolution. there was a decision made to embrace, if you will, the concept of indefinite detention. that with the archives speech. that was a major strategic error in our view at the center for constitutional rights. you have the underwear bomber. the inability of the president at that point in time to withstand or push back against the political rhetoric that came out as a result of that.
you have this given take, ebb and flow with respect to early guantánamo policy. when we were litigating cases, we were winning 75-80% of them. there were transfers that were happening. that was a major major component of early guantánamo policy. that continued until the time of the underwear bomber. you have the decision from the d.c. circuit. the circuit, from that point on, essentially reached conclusion authorizing the administration to continue to hold detainees at guantánamo based on little more than government say-so. the administration realized, wait a second, we can fight these cases even if we lose at
the district court. we can prevail at the circuit, which is what has happened. you have a gradual turning away from the process of transfers. you have a resumption of the military commissions. by 2011, president has basically turned his back on the person. -- turned his back on the prison. you have congress step in to fill the void. >> it was the government arguing these cases in the circuit court. dan: when i started out the discussion tonight by saying the president has long had authority to close the prison. one thing he could decide to do, and could have from the very beginning, was not to contest litigation. karen: that is right. people are going to yell at me afterwards.
i have to take some questions. please remember that this is on c-span, so speak quickly. use the mic, make it a question, not a speech. can i see where the mics are? >> i just have a mic. karen: who has questions? can you raise your hands? identify yourself. >> ima criminal defense lawyer in new york, also litigated in guantánamo. this is not a criticism of mr. rosenthal. >> thank you. [laughter] >> well no, just because you repeated something that is taken as fact, when i have been provided a different scenario.
two concepts, one is a legal resistance to the commissions, and the concept of torture. rather than defense lawyers gumming up the commissions, the commissions gum themselves up in the resistance to litigating torture. if they let the lawyers litigate torture, these cases would have moved a lot faster. carol probably has the best institutional memory. but if tom and wells want to talk about it, just how many times, either through the pressing of the button, the classification of procedures, all of that has been delayed by the government, not by the defense. karen: do you want to comment? >> thanks a lot for the comment. at least from my vantage point,
from serving in the white house, our focus was on the policy of transferring detainees and not on the military commissions, which have run themselves in some way. i don't have any specific comment. but i appreciate your thoughts. >> it was not meant for you to answer. that is not your mandate. karen: more questions. >> hi, thank you. just a citizen, not an attorney. [laughter] karen: great. >> attorneys are citizens also, by the way. [laughter] >> but i am not. two entwined things, i think. gitmo being established because it was out there. the question of it being our sovereignty and the unfair treaty with cuba.
who can or can't run for president? what is or isn't our territory. you are dealing with a great moral issue, and i much appreciate that. it seems to only be schools like this one and cardoza and the cuny law school that deal with those issues. i much appreciate that. the ideal of cruel and unusual punishment, which torture comes under. we have a debate in this country of capital punishment. we know that people have been proven, and yet have been executed because governors say the process must go in. you are saying a process goes on ridiculously. i am wondering, is this really out there?
is this discussing what is an integral thing to the way we conduct the law in the u.s. and it just happens to be on the island of cuba? >> that is what it is. any fictitious, artificial idea that cuba, guantánamo is not us. as justice kennedy has said, it's for all practical purposes, america. we can't give an excuse for violating our fundamental laws by saying we are doing it elsewhere. it is so reprehensible. i worry even if we close guantánamo, those precedents are still in the books. i have a question for dan. wells had made the point, it's extraordinary that the administration that wants to
close guantanamo have use d.c. circuit opinions. which we consider crazy, to say that the laws do not apply in guantanamo. has the administration ever discussed, why don't we tell the justice department to stop opposing these cases? that would clear a lot of these things. >> i will give you an unsatisfactory answer, which is i don't feel comfortable talking about internal deliberations in the government. i cannot confirm one way or the other. these are ongoing matters of litigation by the justice department. you would have to refer these questions to them, sorry. i would revert those questions
to them. sorry. carol: the fact that the obama administration wants to move these people to u.s. soil and believes they can hold them in this long war detention means they think is legitimate. tom and i will disagree. tom believes that you get them here in the courts and the whole house of cards. the obama administration believes they can continue this paradigm of long war detention for al qaeda on u.s. soil. they believe it is legal and legitimate, whether it is there or here. they would not be trying to do it here if they did not believe that. tom: why do you say that? carol: do you think it's a plan to bring them here to implode the whole doctrine? tom: i don't see how they can think that they can hold people -- first of all, based purely on suspicion and not evidence. you are saying it's for the long war. do not assume that. if these are just suspicions of
that, they need to prove it. that's something you can challenge in court. i don't believe they believe that. i really don't. they are trying to close guantánamo. karen: what's interesting about that, it's amazing tom that you're so hopeful about the system of the rule of law in the country. i think a lot of lawyers have talked this way. i find it really interesting. i think the larger question here is, what has happened to the law in the criminal justice system since 9/11? have we lost ground permanently, or is this just an aberration? we don't know the answer. the debate you are having is over what the answer will be. it is something we should think long and hard about. >> tom mentioned earlier the
number of cases that the government is opposing regarding guantanamo. one of them is fighting the release of force-feeding videos. if the goal is to close guantánamo, why fight against transparency that might spark a public outcry against that? >> you want to go? >> i think it is an issue of detainee treatment. when you talk about complaining about one's access, or the experience you might have as a visitor, the reason you are having that experience is because there is no discussion about detainee treatment. the release of these videos is something the government has been fighting. there is no transparency. it is an opaque system.
that is one of the biggest problems, the opacity of virtually everything. you have a single line that comes from the government about who the detainees are, how they are being treated, what the goal is. you cannot question it because they will not give you any room to maneuver to ask the questions. karen: dan, poor guy is not responsible for this. >> it's important point. karen: one more question, and i will ask each of you to think is is going to close by the end of the obama presidency, yes or no? and you don't even have to explain. wait for the microphone and please be brief, as we are out of time. >> my name is alexander, i am a columbia phd, a sociologist and an expert on organizations. i commend you for focusing on guantánamo. i feel insulted by the focus
only on guantanamo, which is a politically correct focus. i have been followed around the world. the government has spent millions of dollars. i am in constant surveillance. they will comment on what i am doing in my house. every night, i can't hear anything outside my house. my hearing is perfect. but every night, i can't hear anything outside my house. they have drones. one second. karen: we are going to take two more questions. >> i have drones and planes buzzing over my house. karen: you can talk to me afterwards about that. thank you. two more questions in a row. >> we are talking about high-stakes issues. a lot of the treatment is in
service of information to protect us. the way you are speaking about how we go about work in the prisons in new york city. rikers island is under scrutiny for the way they handled prisoners. i saw a lot there. it was like the middle ages. it speaks to me when you say it is our process. people are in detention for months on end. it is because it's small stakes issues. somebody needs to direct attention to that as well. karen: this is what eric holder, on some levels, is going to talk about now that he is out of office. who knows? maybe someone else will. one more very quick question. >> i teach here. in the peace and justice program. you have been talking about what can be done within the law. i belong to a group called witness against torture.
for the last 11 years, we have gone to washington every january 11 and done civil disobedience actions. we have gone outside of the law to try and bring attention to this matter. i would like to know, has anybody noticed? >> very few people, unfortunately. it is a shame. what you do is great. >> there are people that notice. the people that notice are the men detained in guantánamo, because we tell them. i mentioned a classic example of the president not doing everything he could. fighting a case that should not be fought. to release a person the government says it wants to release. he knows about this. we certainly appreciate on his behalf and the other men that we represent. karen: i would argue that far too few do.
more often than not, people say, did not we close that? [laughter] karen: you have a question? >> hi, question for carol. do you have any sense of what camp 7 in a possible gitmo north might look like? the cia's role is always in the shadows. what might that look like if it is moved to the mainland? karen: explain what camp 7 is. carol: camp 7 is the prison reporters aren't taken to, that a they are not allowed to know. we were told how much money was spent to build it was a state secret. it's the place where the bodies of men who were disappeared into the cia black sites between 2000-2006.
it is a prison within the prison at guantanamo that is a maximum-security prison. one of wells' clients is there. because of what happened to them, they are to some degree considered to be classified human beings, because they no state secrets, like they were held -- they know state secrets, like where they were held that we are not allowed to know. it is a top security prison by virtue of the people that it holds. not by virtue of what they've done. half of them have never been charged with crimes. not by virtue of their behavior. what little we know about it is that they are highly compliant. but they need to be segregated
from the rest of the prisoners, because they cannot know where they were held and what was done to them. the question is, if they bring them to guantanamo north, i have an expectation they can mix and mingle with the others? no. as long as aspects of their experience are classified, the people that control that classification, presumably the cia, who control their access. thompson was a model of what guantanamo north could have been. it would have very much looking like camp 5. sorry, camp 4. communal p.o.w. style hogans heroes detention, where people can live together, eat together, pray together, which does not exist today. something more like maximum-security, where prisoners they were afraid of were put in single cell solitary confinement.
we have this other place -- when they looked at thompson, you can look at the superstructure and see how they would duplicate all 3 of those there. wells could probably talk in a general sense that if his client was moved there, if you would have anymore contact than he does now? wells: camp 7 and this clients, i cannot talk about that. carol: so, nobody can talk about it. [laughter] i want to know how much it costs. karen: we will have including comments. you can answer questions that were asked or comments that were made. mostly whether or not you think guantanamo will close by the end
of the presidency, a year from now. tom, we start with you. tom: i doubt it because of the pace in which it is moving. but my concluding comment is that -- you assume that guantanamo can be duplicated where the law applies. it can't. i am worried that the way the law exists from the d.c. circuit, people that are held technically outside the sovereign territory of the u.s. have no rights, no due process. i worry about that continuing. i worried that donald trump or ted cruz will be president. this is a system we need to shut down. it is an abomination of our system.
i do have faith that people will not be allowed to be held on the basis of suspicion or false information. that is what america stands for. dan: i'm hopeful that it will close by the end of the obama administration. i think people in the a ministration are likewise opal that it will close. -- people in the administration are likewise hopeful that it will close. a similar point that i made at the outset -- you just have to take my word for this, but when i went to work every day, i do not go to work because i was trying to violate the law. or perpetuate this lawless zone. i went to work because i believed in the constitution. i believe in our government. i believe in national security. people went to work every day and worked hard to fix this problem. it is a hard problem. there are legal and classification complexity. it is a hard problem.
you don't want to release people willy nilly that are dangerous. on the other hand, you don't want to keep them any longer than absolutely necessary. you want to transfer them with conditions in place to make sure that they do not reengage in terrorism. people in government are working in good faith as hard as they can to get it done. wells: i too am hopeful that guantanamo will close. i think the president's word when he says it's a priority for him personally. whether he succeeds in closing the prison is entirely up to him. i confess that i don't understand a lot of decisions made with respect to closing guantanamo. for the life of me, i still want understand why the government continues to litigate and fight these cases.
i don't understand those decisions. unless there are major substantial policy changes at the white house level, guantanamo is not going to close. but i remain hopeful. i have to remain hopeful those changes are going to come and come quickly. >> i have no idea if guantanamo is going to close. but what i do think, i mean it hope it does. i do wonder whether at this point in time that guantanamo is more than just the prison, it is a state of mind. it's a situation that we've allowed ourselves to have, which is tolerating things that should be intolerable. including the winnowing away of
human rights. just the bendable-ness that our approach to terrorism has been. the most important thing is that we need to face our fears about terrorism. there has not been real accountability. that is one of the central problems. that is why the past is important. the past happened. we can deny it and pretend it didn't exist, but it will continue to perpetuate. i think accountability would be huge. i think the whole narrative about terrorism needs to be changed in some ways and dealth with more realistically. carol: i don't know how we get