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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Substituting Judgment

Yesterday's NYT had an interesting, to say the least, article by Thom Shanker and David Sanger about the US's prison down on Gitmo. Here are the first three grafs:

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.

Today's NYT article by Jeff Zeleny brings news of the President's reaction to yesterday's 218-212 House vote to both fund the war and place restrictions on Bush's authority to conduct it. The President

angrily denounced the bill as one in which Democrats had "voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq."

Apparently substituting judgment for the military's (ok, Gates is SecDef, not a military commander) is good for the Goose, but not so good for anyone else.

Two other notes:

  • In answer to a reporter's question after the article appeared, WH spokesman Tony Snow referred to "legal constraints" in explaining why the Gitmo facility couldn't be closed. See this post by Marty Lederman at Balkinization for interesting discussion of the legal issues concerning Gitmo and Snow's statement.

  • Shanker and Sanger write in their article that

    One official made it clear that he was willing to discuss the internal deliberations in part because of Mr. Gonzales’s current political weakness.

    So, is this "official" a roosting chicken, or is he a guy sending a signal to the WH to get rid of Gonzales (and to GOP members of Congress not to defend him)--or both?

Posted by Jonah Gelbach on March 24, 2007 at 01:15 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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