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Bush defends Guantanamo prison camp, courts

[JURIST] US President George Bush on Friday defended the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], calling it "a necessary part of protecting the American people". Bush's comments came during a White House press conference [transcript] with German Chancellor Angela Merkel [BBC profile], who urged Bush to shut down the facility. Bush said that there were "misperceptions" about Guantanamo Bay and that:

Like the Chancellor, I'd like to see a way forward there. The way forward, of course, is ultimately through a court system. I think the best way for the court system to proceed is through our military tribunals, which is now being adjudicated in our courts of law to determine whether or not this is appropriate path for a country that bases itself on rule of law, to adjudicate those held at Guantanamo.

The answer to your question is that Guantanamo is a necessary part of protecting the American people, and so long as the war on terror goes on, and so long as there's a threat, we will, inevitably need to hold people that would do ourselves harm in a system that -- in which people will be treated humanely, and in which, ultimately, there is going to be a end, which is a legal system. We're waiting for our own courts to determine how that's best to proceed.
AP has more. Bush's comments come the same day that several defense lawyers assigned to represent Guantanamo detainees decried the prison camp's court system and alleged human rights violations. Army Major Tom Fleener said that prisoners do not have the right to confront their accusers, access evidence or select their own counsel. The US Supreme Court [official website] in November agreed to hear [JURIST report] a challenge to Bush's authority to establish the military tribunals but the Justice Department on Thursday asked the Court to dismiss the case [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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