TAPPER: Does President Obama think that American prisons are capable of holding detainees in a way that is safe for the American people?
GIBBS: Well, I’d — a lot of decisions have not been made. I would simply reiterate what I told Jennifer (Loven, from AP) which is, that the president would not make a decision or a judgment that would imperil the safety or security of anybody in this country.
TAPPER: Well, I’m not asking if the decisions are made. I’m just — I mean, this is one of the options.
TAPPER: And I’m just asking for a general view, does President Obama have confidence in American prisons, that they would be capable of holding a prisoner without letting them escape?
As you know, it’s a big debate on Capitol Hill. Harry Reid said he doesn’t want them in American prisons. But on the other hand, there are several terrorists that are currently in American prisons.
I’m wondering if the president has confidence that they’re capable of holding terrorists without them becoming free and wreaking havoc.
GIBBS: Well, I — I’d think if you — I read a little of stories around the debate on Capitol Hill this morning, as the Senate passed an amendment on detainees. The president expects to sign in short order a bill for supplemental appropriations.
As I think the debate was noted, there are people convicted of terrorism in our prisons, and the president is confident that the people that are in our prisons now are locked away securely.
TAPPER: So he does have confidence that American prisons are capable.
GIBBS: Well, again, I said what we have, we’re very capable of — we believe they’re very capable. What I’m saying is, before you get down the road on decisions that haven’t been made, I don’t know the degree to which the task force has looked into all that.
TAPPER: Can you just comment on the vote that the Senate…
GIBBS: Well, it — what I said yesterday, that we understand and agree that before resources are handed down, the Congress deserves more detail in a plan.
I think we’ve discussed already today some of the complex decisions that have to be made going forward. That the president will begin to frame part of this discussion tomorrow, outline some of the decisions that he know has to be made in conjunction with other agencies in this administration, as well as members of Congress.
You know, for — we’ve talked about this for the last few days, but for — for many years, there have been a patchwork of ad hoc legal theories that have maintained our detention system.
We know that court cases are coming every day that are rendering different judgments about what legal standards there are in this country, the values that we have to uphold.
And we’re taking all of that into account in making decisions about how to close Guantanamo Bay, because the president believes, and I would say members of both parties agree that Guantanamo Bay has become an image for recruitment for terrorists around the world.
And the president signed an order, early in his administration, to close it, and he intends to keep that promise.