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Bush to reporter on Gitmo: 'I'm sorry you had to waste your question'
President George W. Bush and reporters sparred over the future of Guantanamo Bay inmates after a Supreme Court ruling that current tribunals are illegal.
Video and related transcript follow:
BUSH: We've agreed to take two questions a side. Walking in, I reminded the Prime Minister of one of Elvis's greatest songs, "Don't Be Cruel" -- (laughter) -- so keep that in mind, Hunt, when you ask your question.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said that you wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but you were waiting for the Supreme Court decision that came out today. Do you intend now to close the Guantanamo Bay quickly? And how do you deal with the suspects that you've said were too dangerous to be released or sent home?
BUSH: Thank you for the question on a court ruling that literally came out in the midst of my meeting with the Prime Minister -- and so I haven't had a chance to fully review the findings of the Supreme Court. I, one, assure you that we take them very seriously. Two, that to the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so.
The American people need to know that this ruling, as I understand it, won't cause killers to be put out on the street. In other words, there's not a -- it was a drive-by briefing on the way here, I was told that this was not going to be the case. At any rate, we will seriously look at the findings, obviously. And one thing I'm not going to do, though, is I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. People have got to understand that. I understand we're in a war on terror; that these people were picked up off of a battlefield; and I will protect the people and, at the same time, conform with the findings of the Supreme Court.
QUESTION: Do you think the prison will close?
BUSH: Well, I haven't had a chance to fully review what the court said, Terry. I wish I had, and I could have given you a better answer. As I say, we take the findings seriously. And, again, as I understand it -- now please don't hold me to this -- that there is a way forward with military tribunals in working with the United States Congress; as I understand certain senators have already been out expressing their desire to what the Supreme Court found, and we will work with the Congress. I want to find a way forward.
In other words, I have told the people that I would like for there to be a way to return people from Guantanamo to their home countries, but some of them -- people need to be tried in our courts. And that's -- the Hamdan decision was the way forward for that part of my statement, and, again, I would like to review the case. And we are, we've got people looking at it right now to determine how we can work with Congress if that's available to solve the problem.
QUESTION: Yes, Mr. President. We can assume you've at least been given some of the broad strokes of the Supreme Court's decision on Guantanamo --
BUSH: I just gave you the answer on that. I'll be glad to answer another question -- I gave you the broad strokes I've been given.
QUESTION: Right, but this -- can you comment on what looks like a judicial repudiation of your administration's policy on the treatment of terror suspects post-9/11?
BUSH: Matt, I can't -- I wish I could comment, and would, obviously. I'm a person who generally comments on things. I haven't been briefed enough to make a comment on it, except for the following things. I'm sorry you had to waste your question, but we will conform to the Supreme Court, we will analyze the decision. To the extent that the Congress has given any latitude to develop a way forward using military tribunals, we will work with them.
As I understand, a Senator has already been on TV. Haven't seen it, haven't heard what he said, but as -- they briefed me and said he wants to devise law in conformity with the case that would enable us to use a military tribunal to hold these people to account. And if that's the case, we'll work with him. But that's -- I can't comment any more than I have just done in the first question. Otherwise I would have. I just haven't been fully briefed enough to answer your question, Matt.