At his May 31st press conference, President Bush’s response to reckless claims about Guantanamo Bay was inadequate and superficial at best.
Unfortunately, that performance was Reaganesque compared to W.’s interview last night with FNC’s Neil Cavuto. Here is the full transcript. This is the relevant portion (with a few of my comments in brackets):
CAVUTO: Speaking of civil liberties, one of your predecessors, Jimmy Carter, was very critical of our operations at Guantanamo Bay, saying they should be shut down, that abuses there, if proven true, are dragging our name through the mud globally. What do you make of that?
BUSH: Well, I first of all want to assure the American people that these prisoners are being treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. [MM: Why does Bush assume that this assurance is the first priority of most Americans? Jimmy Carter wants it. George Soros wants it. Joe Biden wants it. Nancy Pelosi wants it. The New York Times editorial board wants it. But what about assurances that our MPs and other personnel at Gitmo are safe and that they are not being railroaded by manipulative al Qaeda detainees exploiting the remarkable comforts and leeway they’ve been accorded?] I say in accordance with because these weren’t normal, you know, military-type fighters. They had no uniforms. They had no, you know, government structure. These were terrorists, swept up off the battlefield in a place like Afghanistan, for example.
And it’s in our nation’s interest that we learn a lot about those people that are still in detention, because we’re still trying to find out how to better protect our country.
Secondly, that anytime there’s an allegation of abuse, we investigate. That’s what transparent societies do. We’ve got a press corps that’s constantly asking tough questions about prisoner treatment, for example. [MM: “Asking tough questions?” Whaaat? Is that what he thinks Newsweek did? Try media slander.] You just asked one. [MM: No offense to Neil, who I love. But “What do you make of that?” is not a “tough question.” It’s an obvious question.] And that’s what open societies do, they answer the questions by saying…
CAVUTO: But now President Carter has said, sir, shut it down. Joe Biden said shut it down. Do you think it should be shut down?
BUSH: Well, you know, we’re exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America. [MM: He should tell DoD Secretary Don Rumsfeld, who said yesterday that Guantanamo isn’t being considered for closing.] What we don’t want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us. And so we’re looking at all alternatives and have been.
Ugh. Here is how Bush’s comments are being spun:
Washington Post: Bush Open to Possibly Closing Gitmo Camp
LA Times: Bush Is Open to Closing Guantanamo Prison Camp
Houston Chronicle: Bush won’t rule out shutting Gitmo camp
London Free Press: Bush may close Guantanamo prison
Al Jazeera: Bush: We might close Guantanamo
Some Bush supporters will blame the liberal media for misinterpreting his ambiguous remarks. Puh-lease. There is only one person to blame for serving up this messy waffle. If W. doesn’t want to create the perception of capitulating to the Gitmo mau-mau-ers, Islamists, and Jimmy Carter juggernaut, there’s an easy way to do it.
Mr. President: The next time you are asked whether Gitmo should be shut down because Jimmy Carter is whining, just say–and this is short enough to write on your palm if you need a reminder–“No.”
If you are asked to elaborate, here’s an extended answer: “Hell no.”
Update: One of my favorite columnists, Jack Kelly–and a new blogger at Irish Pennants (bookmark it!)–weighs in with some good advice.
Update II: 100pm. Rumsfeld has to do damage control.
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line, Frivolous even by Democratic standards
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line, The world may be flat, but it’s not one-dimensional
David B. Rivkin Jr. & Lee A. Casey, The Corner, On Closing Gitmo
Charles Krauthammer, Gitmo Grovel: Enough Already
John Hinderaker, Weekly Standard, A Study in Abuse
Ed Morrissey, Captain’s Quarters, The self-indulgence of the American media and leftist establishment
Gitmo detainees desecrate Koran
The Gitmo round-up
Letter of the morning: What about Castro’s gulags?
In Defense of Guantanamo Bay
What is it with the Washington Post?
Gitmo’s Emily Latella
Guantanamo Bay: The rest of the story
Once more, into the toilet
Newsweek lied.* People died.
Former Gitmo prisoner: Shot dead.
Associated Press Orders No Pictures Shown of Burned Korans; Burned Christian Bibles, Not So Much; Update: Koran Burn Canceled
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