And if we close Guantanamo today without thinking of what to do with them, then the question becomes, what do you do with them? We can't turn them loose, because there is no doubt in my mind, without any doubt whatsoever, that the majority of these 300 or so would return to the fight. And so we have to do something with them. If we don't keep them in Guantanamo, we should keep them someplace else.
So today there's a need for a facility like Guantanamo, and I'd like to see it close as well, but we have to address the issue of what to do with them.
MORAN: Do you think it can close anytime soon? President Bush seems eager to do it.
HARRIS: I think it can be closed anytime that he directs it to be closed. But in that process, I'm sure that we'll be asked to recommend what we should do with those detainees that are serious al Qaeda and Taliban leadership.
MORAN: So in your judgment, as the commander of this detention facility, if Guantanamo Bay goes away for any reason, most of the men here still need to be imprisoned by the United States somewhere.
HARRIS: I believe they need to be in detention by somebody somewhere. Now, that's discounting those are up for war crimes trials now. Those have to be dealt with in that process. But if you discount those, and then at the other end we return to either release or transfer to other countries for continued detention those that we have made that recommendation and the designated civilian official has determined that they could be released or transferred, then if you take the remainder -- and that's about 300 or so -- I agree with what you just said. We must do something with them.
If we let them go, then they'll go back to the fight. And they've told us that. We know that they'll go back to the fight.
And so that's one of the reasons why we have this facility, is to prevent them from returning to the fight on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MORAN: Are you holding any innocent men here?
HARRIS: I believe truly that I am holding no innocent men in Guantanamo.
MORAN: How do you know that?
HARRIS: They have gone through a rigorous process to get to where they are today. Not only were they processed on the battlefields in the Middle East by Central Command before they got here.
But after they got here we went through a very rigorous process called the CSRT, the Combatant Status Review Tribunal, which is a Geneva Article 5-like procedure. And that process looked at every detainee -- it was a one-time only process -- and it look at every detainee to determine whether that detainee was an enemy combatant or no longer an enemy combatant.
So if you take those that were determined to be no longer enemy combatants and you sit them aside, then you have the vast majority of the remaining detainees who were judged to be enemy combatants -- after a pretty lengthy evaluation process.
After that was over -- and the CSRT was a one-time deal -- we do since then annual administrative review boards. This is a process that has no precedent in neither Geneva, international law or U.S. domestic law.
And ARB, the ministry review board process, is all about looking at each detainee every year to see if he -- if we can afford the risk of returning that detainee to another country for continued detention or just outright release them, or if we need to keep them here. And that's another very rigorous process.