Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 6/12/2009

By Gorman Gorman

Jun 12, 2009 3:57pm

Dr. Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, joined us for the start of the briefing, to talk about the resolution against North Korea passed by the United Nations Security Council.

TAPPER: How concerned were you, as you negotiated this, about  whether or not North Korea would take action against the two American journalists that they're holding as punishment for these tough sanctions?                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

AMB. SUSAN RICE:  Well, we view the situation of the two American journalists as being separate and apart from the actions that we are discussing and that we took today in New York.  Obviously, theirs is a  humanitarian matter, and one that we think ought to be addressed in  that context by North Korea.  We've been very clear that we seek their immediate and unconditional release, as a humanitarian act.                                                                                                                                                                             

***

TAPPER:  I have two questions, Robert. First, how do you respond to the charge that in the hurry to make the president's deadline of closing Guantanamo within a year some decisions are being made without proper consultation?  A senior State Department official yesterday said that the British government was, quote-unquote, 'pissed' http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/06/official-brits-are-pssed-about-uighurs-to-bermuda.html  that they had not been consulted about Uighurs going to Bermuda.


GIBBS:  I think they were — if I'm not mistaken, and I don't want to parse the word 'pissed,' but I think they…

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER:  It was your administration's word, not mine.

GIBBS:  All right.  But I — I think if I read most of those stories correctly, they were not pleased with the government of Bermuda.

TAPPER:  They were pissed at the Obama administration is what we have been told by the State Department.

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS:  Well, maybe I misread many of the stories, but…

REPORTER:  Maybe they were pissed at both of them.

(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS:  It's — or maybe a lot of (inaudible).  I don't know. I think that, again…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER:  Let's not get into that. The issue of the fact that you were trying to make this deadline.  For that reason, there has been criticism that the decision was made to close before there was a full plan of what to do with all the detainees; that the decisions are being made, as you say, on a case-by-case basis. The other day, you couldn't or wouldn't say what would happen to Ghailani if he's found not guilty.  Obviously, the British government is not happy, regardless of who they're not happy with, whether it is Obama, Bermuda or both.

GIBBS:  Right.

TAPPER:  Clearly, you are trying to make this deadline, and decisions are being made before there is completely a plan in place for everything.

GIBBS:  I — I — well, I'd — I think I would obviously take — I don't think that's true that — that any of these decisions are being made in a hasty way. Look, keep in mind — let's take, for instance, as I had mentioned here, five of the six transferees just this week were required by a federal court.  The Uighurs that we've discussed, five of them were transferred in '05 or '06 to Albania.  I don't know if that was a hasty decision.  Since they've no record of — of acting violent since that transfer, I don't think that would be considered hasty.

A court ruled that of the remaining 17, one was — one should not be labeled an enemy combatant, and the Bush administration labeled, after that, the other 16 being held as not enemy combatants.  They've been waiting for a location for resettlement.  I don't think moving them was hasty. And I don't think the decisions that are being made are hasty. As I said earlier this week, I think bringing somebody to trial after committing a trial 11 years ago, indicted on 286 charges, responsible for taking part, allegedly, in the death of 224 individuals, including 12 Americans, in 1998, since it's 2009, I'm not sure many people would think that's hasty.

The president and his team are going through this process in a very methodical way, understanding that it's complex, but that the benefits to our security and to our image in the world demand it.

TAPPER:  OK.  Second question:  The president's former mentor and spiritual adviser, Reverend Wright, had some choice words to say about, quote/unquote, 'them Jews' that are — that are preventing him from talking to the president.  He later, in fairness, changed that to 'Zionists," not "Jews." But I was wondering if the president was aware of these comments and if he had any reaction to it at all.

GIBBS:  I haven't talked to him about these comments.  I think the — I would — I don't have any comment on it except to refer you to the last time that president spoke about Reverend Wright, in late April of 2008.  I'll refer you to those comments.

-jpt

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