Yesterday afternoon, the AP reported that Bush administration officials were poised to meet to discuss the future of detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. By all indications, there was reason for optimism — the AP said that “for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing” for finally closing the facility.
Shortly after the AP story hit the wires, the White House backpedaled, insisting that there was no meeting, no consensus, and no imminent decision. What happened? The WaPo shed some light on the subject.
Senior Bush administration officials are engaged in active discussions about closing the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but deep divisions remain regarding the fate of the approximately 375 foreign detainees currently held there should the prison close, according to numerous officials familiar with the ongoing dialogue.
President Bush has stated publicly his desire to shut down the facility, which has drawn significant criticism and damaged the United States’ reputation internationally. But debates over the legal implications and logistical hurdles to closing Guantanamo have highlighted the difficulties of such a move. Despite rising interest among the highest levels of the administration to resolve this issue before the end of Bush’s presidency, viable alternatives have proved elusive, officials said yesterday. […]
The Associated Press reported yesterday that a meeting of several top Bush administration officials about Guantanamo’s future was scheduled for today, but the White House denied such a meeting was taking place. Two administration officials said last night that a meeting about several topics is scheduled for today but that the Guantanamo issue was removed from the agenda after news of the meeting broke.
I guess a “consensus” remains elusive. Gates and Rice (and, for what it’s worth, Powell) want Guantanamo closed and the detainees transferred to the U.S. justice system. Cheney and Gonzales don’t. Bush ostensibly wants Guantanamo closed, but doesn’t know what happens afterwards. Like Bradford Plumer, I think Cheney’s winning the fight.