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Gates On Gitmo Closure: 'It's Going To Take A Little Longer'

[media id=10079] (h/t David at VideoCafe.) On This Week with George Stephanopoulus: The Obama Administration is trying to engineer a soft-landing f


(h/t David at VideoCafe.)

On This Week with George Stephanopoulus:

The Obama Administration is trying to engineer a soft-landing for the President's promise to close Guantanamo by January 22, 2010.

Friday morning White House officials told me that some detainees would still be in Gitmo after the deadline after this story broke in the Washington Post. And in our 'This Week' interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that "it's going to take a little longer" than promised to close the prison.

Here’s our full exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: A major story in "The Washington Post" suggesting that the president's deadline of January 22nd for closing Guantanamo will not be met. And White House officials tell me that at least some prisoners will still be in Guantanamo on January 22nd and beyond. How big a setback is that and how long will it take to finally close Guantanamo?

GATES: When the president elect met with his new national security team in Chicago on December 7th...


GATES: ...last year, this issue was discussed, about closing Guantanamo and executive orders to do that and so on. And the question was, should we set a deadline? Should we pin ourselves down? I actually was one of those who said we should because I know enough from being around this town that if you don't put a deadline on something, you'll never move the bureaucracy. But I also said and then if we find we can't get it done by that time but we have a good plan, then you're in a position to say it's going to take us a little longer but we are moving in the direction of implementing the policy that the president set. And I think that's the position that we're in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's where we are. So the deadline of January 22nd will not be met?

GATES: It's going to be tough.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and how many prisoners will be there on January 22nd, do you know?

GATES: I don't know the answer to that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it -- but, as you said, it's going to be tough and likely will not be met.

GATES: We'll see.

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