tv Inside Story Al Jazeera February 24, 2016 11:30pm-12:01am EST
ray suarez is up next with ""inside story"." have a great night. >> in the last lap of his presidency, barack obama is wrapping up unfinished business. like the promises of u.s. senator, candidate and new president, barack obama, to close down the prison at the american naval base at guantanamo bay, cuba. fewer than 100 inmates remain, and some have waited for years for trials, and some are already understood to be not guilty, but have no place to go. but what happens now? a problem of our making, it's the "inside story".
welcome to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. in 2021, the united states was attacked. hijackers boarded planes in u.s. airports and crashed fully loaded jets in new york, virginia and pennsylvania. networks of men prepare to attack americans and america's allies, new alliances, new enemies for a new kind of wars. the u.s. and it's allies invaded afghanistan and iraq and began to pick up prisoners who weren't soldiers necessarily, not like german prisoners who end you want in camps on u.s. soil who went home after it was all over. what the bush administration calls the global war on terror didn't have
objectives as clear as the unconditional surrender of japan, or protecting the nation of south vietnam. it had no specific ending, the war wasn't fought against standing armies, and by opening up a prison camp away from american soil, the u.s. moved people they picked up as prisoners into a legal vacuum. but if they were tried by the u.s. did they get the same protections as u.s. citizens in u.s. courts? when the fighting was over and they were taken prisoner, could they go home? if the people testifying against them in court were tortured, could that information be used in court? almost 15 years later, guantanamo is expensive, almost empty, and still on the president's to do list. aljazeera's jamie mcintyre has the details on what the president wants, and what stands in his way. >> reporter: the president insisted he is very clear eyed
about the hurdles facing the final closure of guantanamo. the politics, he said, are tough. but he urged congress and the american people to "step back and look at the facts. seven years after first signing an order to close guantanamo, a bruised and battle weary president obama pleading with an unsympathetic congress to give his final plan a chance. >> i don't want to pass this problem onto the next president, whoever it is, and if, as a nation, we don't deal with this now, when will we deal with it? are we going to let this linger on for another 15 years, another 20 years, another 30 years? >> over the years, some 800 prisoners have been held at guantanamo. of that, more than 500 were released to other countries during the bush administration. president obama transferred 147 more, and now there are just 91 lest. what the pentagon set congress was a four point plan to deal
with those 91 and permanently close the prison camp. what president obama argues is a stain on america's reputation and a recruiting tool for america's enemies. the plan would transfer 35 detainees already cleared for release to other countries by this summer, and accelerate eligibility reviews for the others potential transfers, proceed with legal action against ten detainees, including possible foreign prosecution, and work with congress to bring the other 46 to a secure facility in the united states. obama argues moving the detainees to a super max prison in the united states would save $85 million a year over the cost of guantanamo, and in such cases, such as dzhokar tsarnaev, showed that the u.s. can and does convict and incarcerate accused terrorists in the courts. >> part of my message to the american people, we're already
holding a bunch of dangerous terrorists here in the united states because we threw the book at them and there of been no incidents. we have managed it just fine. >> reporter: as the president marshaled his arguments for closing gitmo, there's one thick thing that he didn't mention, something that the white house doesn't want to talk about. that the president under his final ternal could as commander in chief, issue executive order and bring the remaining detainees to u.s. soil and close guantanamo, but that could cause a political crisis. >> guantanamo, this time on the program, nancy hollander, the defense attorney for guantanamo prisoner, [ audio difficulties ]
and former chief prosecutor of it the guantanamo military trials, from 2025 to 2007. during the confirmation hearings, attorney general, lorettleft lanes confirmed to hr inquisitors that it was her view, that as the law stood at the moment prevented the united states from bringing detainees from cuba to u.s. soil. and has anything changed? and given the relationship between the white house and change? >> i don't know what might change. but the president said that it's contrary to our values to hold people in guantanamo, and it's just as contrary to our values to move guantanamo to some prison in the u.s. and continue to hold people without charge. my client, mohamed salah he,
has been held for 14 years, and he has never been charged with a federal crime. and a federal judge ordered him set free, and it was the obama administration that appealed that instead of clearing him. and there are others in a similar situation. what should happen now is people should get those hearings, and the prison should be closed and not moved. >> since you mentioned salahi, after someone has been held in that way, in that kind of limbo for that long, are we, the united states, remaining an intact, okay guy to somewhere else in the world? what's his frame of mind at this point? >> well, you can read the afterward that he put into his book, which he wrote in 2014, where he said that he hopes that some day he can sit down and have a cup of tea with all of people that he has met,
because as he has put t. we have learned so much from each other. he's a very thoughtful, kind, generous and smart person. he is not interested in any kind of revenge. he wants to go home to more i taina where he came from, and there's no reason why he can't do that, or should do that. >> lawrence davis, did the president actually submit a plan or just another request, like the one that he submitted seven years ago to do what he wanted to do, and get slapped down? >> it appears to be the one that he submitted seven years, and putting the ball back in congress' court. and if they want to be obstructionists, they can continue to do so. but this is a needless stain on our reputation, and i have yet to see a good argument of why guantanamo makes sense. if you get past the political
talking points, there's no rational for keeping guantanamo. >> if that's the case, are we going to end up in the same place that we ended up seven years ago? >> well, there's no way to know that. but it would same, we can only hope that they don't arrive at the same place, and in fact, this time, for the good of our nation, and for the justice system, that it takes on definitive action once and for all. >> but we don't need a super crystal ball, do we? mitch mcconnell has made it clear that he thinks there's no way that these people can be brought to the united states, and the republican senator, recently elected from colorado, home of the florence super max, said that he would oppose it under any circumstances, and a lot of the republican members
of the had senate have weighed in, and they don't want to hear the testimony and the contrary architects. they have made up their mind, and this is not going to happen. >> well, that's not the only issue before the congress, or dispute between the congress and the president right now, as we know, but quite frankly, all of our elected individuals have the responsibility to engage in a dialogue. and the art of compromise is something that we as citizens hope that our elected officials would be able to find for us. >> in the absence of sincere dialogue, you're a lawyer, is this something that the president can do on his own some. >> well, the biggest issue that i see with respect to that, the funding authority.
and at the end of the day, the president is commander in chief, and he has fairly vast powers to the constitution, but the congress has the power of the purse, and it takes a lot of money to basically make anything happen. and so it would be very very problematic to execute and implement an executive order without funding for it, and it could create a very very serious controversy between the white house and congress and kind of put the military in the middle of it. >> we're talking about the prospects for closing the prison at guantanamo, cuba, a problem of our own making. stay with us, it's "inside story".
>> you're watching "inside story," i'm ray suarez. and back with me now, nancy hollander, manuel, and maurice davis. you were part of this process, and what didn't happen that was understood that was supposed to happen that got us here? these people weren't nuts, they made plans, they made legal finds and laid out a process for handling these men that probably didn't anticipate that we would be where we are in 2016. what didn't happen? >> what didn't happen was listening to the senior leadership in uniform back in 2021. you won't find any of the senior military officials around at the time that were in favor of creating guantanamo military commissions, and enhancing interrogation. that was the product of political appointees who just ignored the advice of the military leadership. and if you didn't get the
answer, you were shut out of the discussion. so here we are now, almost 20 years later, you're suck with this mess. you see the trials, and i was involved in designing the the ex expeditionary legal complex, and we designed it within 5 years of 2006, that was ten years ago, and a lot of the stuff is worn out and if they're going to stay out it's going to require a huge amount of funds to make something that was designed to be temporary into something morer permanent. >> the uniformed assistant did try to make it work. it was laid out and there were hearings and testimony, and somehow is didn't end up in a lot of verdicts. >> it really hasn't. in november of 2021, it's when president obama signed the
order authorizing creating the military missings, and 15 years later, eight trials have completed, and out of the eight trials, when they have gotten here to washington, the u.s. court of appeals to the district of columbia circuit, and the circuit court, one of the most conservative appellate courts in the system, there's not a single case that has made it through appellate process with all of the charges being anyplaced as valid. so the military commission is a huge failure, and again, 0 for 8 in getting cases to appellate process. >> nancy hollander, was there a fatal flaw from the beginning? >> there the beginning, at the very beginning, it was thought that these people wouldn't have lawyers, that they wouldn't have rights, that the constitution wouldn't apply, and the supreme court kept chipping away at that, all the way
until we had the bomid case and you can't get away with it, and you can't put people into a black hole. but it's up to the military now. the military needs to do what the president has asked. the president signed an executive order in 2011, saying that everyone in gaughann should have a hearing to determine if that person is a current threat. there have now been 21 of those hearings, and 18 of those people have been cleared for release. now, the president wants to get all of those finished by the end of the year. they need to do that. >> that would clear out this prison, and they wouldn't have to send anyone to the united states to continue having a guantanamo in the u.s. that's what needs to happen. we don't have a date and there
are others in the same situation, and that's what needs to happen and the president needs to do what the military requested and that he requested five years ago. >> this would lower some of the temperature, the defendants that nancy hollander is talking about. people who have been adjudicated and cleared. and people foun not be a dangere somehow gotten out of the system so you reduce it to that favorite phrase of donald rumsfeld, the worst of the worst. >> well, ray, you're opening keys when you talk about even under the bush administration, over 500 detainees were let go and transferred out, and i believe that under president obama, maybe i think it was 147 or something like that. so let's just put this in context, that there has already been a very significant amount
of reduction from the high watermark of guantanamo. to where we are today. naturally, it doesn't mean that you can sit back and not do anything. and i agree with your other guests that there ought to be an increase in the operations tempo to process as many of these folks as possible here this year. however, it is likely that we're getting a lot closer to the worst of the worst, and we could end up with a number, 20, 25 or so, who will not be released. and that there may be inof sufficient evidence to prosecute them. so the legal theory is that they're being held under the law of war to keep them from rejoining the worldwide -- >> gary, can we hold them that way if we're fighting a war that may never end?
>> the question is, you can -- the answer is yes, you can. and whether or not that's legal, or moral or ethical, that's another question, and litigated. >> we're talking about the prison at guantanamo, cuba, and the president's desire in the face of be congressional opposition, to close it. making. we'll be right back. >> there is so many changes in my life... i was ready for adventures. >> from burlesque dancer to acclaimed artists. >> art saved my life. >> reflections from her new memoir. >> no no no no no... i'm way to dysfunctional to have an ordinary job. >> see what lies ahead for molly crabapple. >> who emerges from life unscathed? >> i lived that character. >> we will be able to see change.
>> what boggles my mind is that the president is contemplating directing the military to knowingly break the law. our law is really clear, and by the way, the democrats wrote this law when they were in the majority, when they ran congress, which is these detainees cannot come to american soil. so if the president foresees knowingly breaking the law and king the military to break the law, he will be met with fierce bipartisan opposition here in congress, and we're taking all of the legal preparations necessary to meet with that resistance, he can't do that. >> that's speaker of the house,
paul ryan, promising a very poor reception for the president's plan of shutting the guantanamo prison. and back with me, nancy, manuel, and retired colonel, maurice davis, and the idea that we can't bring them here is based on a couple of things. i think that there's a security problem with it. and the idea that detainees must be afforded constitutional -- full constitutional legal rights. once they're tried in a courtroom in the united states, and the sort of vague idea that it's just a dangerous, crazy thing did a. but aren't there he there already 300 accused convicted terrorists in american prisons right now? >> there are, and i think if president obama really wanted to close guantanamo, heished have said i love guantanamo and i want to keep it open forever,
and his critics would be having it shut down by friday. >> .org you think that's it? >> there's a lot to t. when you look at obamacare and supreme court justice, and had he said i loved place, i want to keep it open forever, he might have had a backlash. i was there in december of 2016, when they were transferred from the cia to the military. and 14 men got off the aaron that day, including kalid shaikh mohamed. and since a decade, there has been one that has gone through the supreme court and around and that was ahmed galani, who was prosecuted in federal court in new york city. and 13 others that got off the plane with him that day are still at guantanamo, and they're still awaiting their day in court. so we have a system that works, and it works well, and it's
safe and secure, and it does justice, and unfortunately, this has become a partisan issue, where people pander to fear. i think if the american public knew the truth about guantanamo, they would insist that it be closed this week. >> what should the public know about the cost benefit analysis, on the one hand, holding for the world to see people without trial and with no hope of trial, versus the real security concerns that are being expressed here in the united states? >> you know, ray, the cost benefit analysis, from a purely monitor financial perspective, i think that has been laid out pretty well that maintaining guantanamo, particularly as you draw down to probably less than 60 detainees, the millions of dollars that we would be spending per detainee is really outrageous, and beyond that, it
has been elude to in the president's speech, and he talks about how world leaders always bring it up. it's not just at the world leader level. but at the locally corm level, when i travel to many other countries in latin america, and the middle east and europe, it comes up. it comes up at the much junior level. and it is really deep seeded. in other words, it's not just a facade that our allies have to make that talking point, but it's really deeply ingrained. and it affects the perspective of the rest of the world on the united states in a negative way. >> well, nancy hall onder, the question is, can we ever get past it? if we had to shut it tomorrow, the memory of what happened over the last 15 years is not there, but testified to by the men who will someday get out. >> that's true, and the world
will talk about it, but shutting it down will show that we have finally come back to what our values are. i mean shut it down, and not just move people to another prison where they're going to be held without charge, which is illegal, unconstitutional and immoral. there have been 35 people who have been cleared, some of them for 35 years. we're not getting down to the worst of the worst. we have got people there who have been cleared. my client, a federal judge said that there was no evidence against him five years ago. and these are people who they need to process out. and get them out. the people who are in the military commission trials should be tried in legitimate american courts or not tried at all. we either try people or release them. that's what we do in this country, and we need to show the world that's what we do for everyone. everyone. >> well, not everybody is on the same side of this question, two of the presidential
candidates weighed if over the last 48 hours. marco rubio, not only should we keep it open, but we should put more people there to find out what they know. similar. i want to thank my guests, maurice davis, former prosecutor for the military trials, and manuel, a colonel in the middle, a former lead military lawyer of southern command. and now an attorney in private practice, and nancy hollander, who was the attorney for mohamed soi soi he. join us tomorrow, when we company tour the diplomatic on the ground in syria. aim ri ray, goosyria -- i'm ray suarez. thank you, and good night.
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