'Myth' of Gitmo Closure Dismissed; Ex-Military Leaders See Danger in It Staying Open

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Conery, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A group of retired military leaders on Tuesday accused critics of the Obama administration's plan to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba including former Vice President Dick Cheney and several Republican congressmen, of demagoguery and fear-mongering.

The group, which included retired generals and admirals, said it is actually more dangerous for Americans to leave Guantanamo open than to bring detainees to the U.S. for incarceration and trial.

Retired Brig. Gen. James P. Cullen, who served in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General's Corps, dismissed as a myth the notion that Guantanamo detainees brought to the U.S. to face trial could escape prison and endanger Americans.

Trade that off against the real danger to our security by leaving Guantanamo open. Guantanamo has served to recruit far more terrorists than it has ever contained, Gen. Cullen said. That's the real threat. And by making all these false arguments and distractions, we are ignoring what is the real threat by keeping that place open.

Gen. Cullen was one of six retired military leaders who spoke with The Washington Times during an interview arranged by Human Rights First, a group with which the leaders are all affiliated. They were among the group of military leaders who lobbied candidates in last year's presidential election to close Guantanamo and were with President Obama when he signed the executive order to close the prison.

The leaders came to Washington to beat back what they termed misinformation about the closing of Guantanamo, and to meet with military and administration officials, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Mr. Holder was tapped by Mr. Obama to lead a task force to determine what should happen to the detainees at Guantanamo, where about 220 detainees remain.

We were very heartened at what we heard, said retired Lt. Gen. Charles Otstott, who served 32 years in the Army. They seem to have made a great deal of progress, it's a very detailed, interagency process.

Gen. Otstott said they were informed that the task force has already conducted one review of the circumstances surrounding the detention of every detainee remaining at Guantanamo. The task force has already determined in most detainees' cases whether to prosecute or transfer to another country. …