WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that the only alternative
to holding some suspected terrorists indefinitely would be to execute
them, saying that was an argument against the Obama administration's
plans to close the Guantanamo detainee prison.
"If you're going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we
are, such as the global war on terrorism, if you don't have a place
where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill
them," Mr. Cheney said.
"And we don't operate that way."
The former vice president's statements only raise the stakes in
fierce debate with his critics, who believe Mr. Cheney presided over
the formulation of interrogation techniques that they regard as torture
and remains unapologetic for approving waterboarding and other harsh
Mr. Cheney said that foreign fighter detainees "ought to be
held until the end of the conflict" and criticized the Obama
administration for failing to think through its plans to shutter
"The administration made a mistake of the president issuing an
order that he wants it closed within a year, but didn't have a clue as
to how to proceed," Mr. Cheney said. "And now they're having trouble
because they're having to come up with a plan of some kind."
Mr. Cheney, who has become the most prominent figure to defend
the Bush administration's record on terror and national security, spoke
and took questions at a lunch honoring journalism award winners at the
National Press Club.
The former vice president said that the Guantanamo Bay prison
is "a fine facility" and that the White House will have a "very
difficult" time closing it, because of the legal, political and
diplomatic challenges associated with indefinite detention.