Holder: U.S. Still Determined to Close Gitmo

By Theresa Cook

Feb 25, 2009 4:55pm

ABC News’ Jason Ryan reports:  Despite his recent observation that the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is “well run,” Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration is still determined to shut the facility down.

Holder, who visited the facility Monday, described his trip as "instructive,” and said that during his tours of the different detainee facilities, he “was impressed by the people who are presently running the camp” and that the facilities “are good ones.”

"But I think it does not in any way decrease our determination to close the facility, even though, as I said, I think it is being well run now," Holder said at a news conference at the Justice Department, announcing the results of a major offensive against a Mexican drug cartel

"Our determination to close it, I think, is rooted in the things that the President spoke about when he signed the executive order and is consistent with my testimony during my confirmation hearing."

Holder traveled to the facility with senior Justice Department lawyers and Matthew Olsen, whom he appointed last week to head the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force, the panel charged with evaluating the detainees’ cases.

While at the facility, the attorney general met with military lawyers and guards and reviewed the charges and case histories of the detainees being held there. 

Asked to respond to a Reuters report that some abuse at Guantanamo has taken place since President Obama has ordered the detention facility Holder said, "I did not witness anything in — when I was at Guantanamo that indicated people were getting in, I think, as you put it, last licks.”

“I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners…What I saw was a very conscious attempt to conduct — for these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way,” Holder continued.

On Thursday, several lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees are expected to send a letter to President Obama, urging him to intervene and stop the alleged abuse of about 20 of their clients.

Also on Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said the facility has blunted the United States’ ability to deal with other countries.

"The damage it has done to [our] international reputation has made things more difficult for us….we don’t have blue chips we want trade in other areas," he told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.

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