'Baddest of the Bad'

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Say we shut down Gitmo (search) and other prison camps? What would we actually do with these suspected terrorists, which the Pentagon considers to be "the baddest of the bad"?

Let's ask former presidential candidate and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark.

Now, you had to worry about keeping prisoners of war. Why should we be embarrassed about Guantanamo Bay?

WESLEY CLARK, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, it has become an issue. It's become an issue for several different reasons. Some of them were wrong and incorrect, but some of them were valid concerns on the part of people in the Islamic world. Some of these people actually, at least according to the evidence we have seen, weren't really hard-core terrorists.

GIBSON: But we have released...

CLARK: So, we need a process.

GIBSON: We have released, I don't know, two — I have got the number here. At one point, there were 750 detainees. There are now 520. We have released 167 and transferred 67. There's a process for releasing those that are there mistakenly.

Why should we be embarrassed by this camp, when the people who are attacking us and saying we should be embarrassed are the ones that are our enemies?

CLARK: I think the question is: What should we be doing right now? And what we should be doing is, first, making sure we have got all the legalities in place. So, what is the status of people in the camp? Go through the procedures. Which ones are unlawful combatants? Which ones need to be turned back over? And then, what do we do with them? Do we detain them indefinitely and under what conditions?

And the second thing is, then, how do we get our allies, our coalition partners, in on the problem? Rather than having them looking at us and saying you have a problem, really, we're doing something for the whole world here. We're leading the war against terrorists. So, why aren't they part of the solution with us? Why are they pointing their fingers at us?

So, I would like to see several things done. Number one, I would like to see some of our allies brought in on this process. I would like to see them sifting through some of the information, participate in some of the interrogations and offering to bear some of the costs of holding these prisoners.

GIBSON: We have turned prisoners from Guantanamo Bay (search) back to France. They've let them go. We have turned prisoners from Guantanamo Bay back to Britain. They have let them go. They seem to be of a mind-set that, whatever is going on at Guantanamo Bay is wrong and they're going to release those people, against our better judgment. Why should we substitute the judgment of Germany, France, Great Britain, for ours?

CLARK: I'm not suggesting we substitute their judgment for ours. What I'm suggesting is that this is a problem that affects their countries as well. So what we need to do is bring them into the boat with us. They need to be in Guantanamo. They need to look not just at the British citizens who were given back to Britain or the French citizens who were given back to France. They need to see the whole problem. And they need to help us formulate the kind of commonsense approach that they can support, that we'll support, and that wins world support.

GIBSON: So, you wouldn't close it?

CLARK: I am not closing it.


CLARK: I'm not recommending that.

GIBSON: General Wesley Clark, thank you very much. Appreciate you coming in. Good to see you.

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