Holden is back, Scottie is back, and Helen is back. And Holden is just thrilled to see Helen ream Little Scottie out over the Bush Gulag in today’s gaggle.
Q Did you find out anything about a prison for detainees —
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll come back to that. Let me stay on Indonesia , or the Indian Ocean situation, and then I’ll come back to that.
Yes that was Helen Thomas, Little Scottie, and you can’t escape her today.
Q I have the next question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen had the next question, so she’s right.
Q Are we going to set up a prison for permanent detainees for whom we have no evidence to even charge or try?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, let me back up and talk about the situation that we’re in. We are fighting a different kind of war, as you have heard us talk about. The enemy is unlike any we have ever seen before. They have no regard for the rule of law; they have no regard for innocent civilians.
Q But we have a regard for law.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me walk back through this. We do. The President has — his most solemn obligation is the safety and security of the American people. The war on terrorism is a war that continues. The people you are talking about are unlawful enemy combatants who were picked up on the battlefield, and we have a responsibility to —
Q Why are they unlawful if they were defending their own country?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. We have a responsibility to protect the American people, and that includes preventing enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield or rejoining the fight once they have been captured. We also expect those detainees to be treated humanely and in accordance with our laws. So this is a new situation that we’ve been working to address. And maintaining security and making sure detainees continue to be treated humanely are priorities that the Pentagon continues to work to address.
And in terms of steps that they’re taking to make the living conditions of those at Guantanamo Bay more suitable for longer-term detention, you should talk to the Department of Defense. But that’s why I reiterated that this is a war that continues and we’re talking about enemy combatants.
Q I asked you if we’re going to have a permanent prison for detainees, into eternity, without any charges, without any trial. And if they are picked up from the battlefield, why don’t you call them prisoners of war?
MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons that we’ve previously stated, they’re referred to as unlawful enemy combatants. We’ve been through this —
Q Why are they unlawful?
MR. McCLELLAN: — on a number of occasions, Helen. And there have been —
Q So you are going to have a prison, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: — in some instances. There is currently a detention facility. Like I said, if you want to talk about how the Department of Defense is working to address these issues, you can direct those questions to the Department of Defense.
Q This is a matter of justice. Keeping people permanently, without any charge or any trial —
MR. McCLELLAN: In some instances we’ve taken an extraordinary step of releasing enemy combatants before the end of this conflict, after we assessed they were no longer a threat to the United States or to the American people. There have been a few instances, unfortunately, where individuals have returned to the battlefield.
We’ve also transferred a number of detainees to their home countries, after working out agreements that address some of the security concerns. We will continue to do so, because other countries also have a shared responsibility in waging this war on terrorism. But this is a war on terrorism that continues and we will continue to wage it on all fronts. But as we capture people on the battlefield, we will make sure that they are treated humanely and we’ll make sure that they’re afforded reviews as we have set up.
There are detainees that — the detainees at Guantanamo Bay receive reviews of their status, to make sure that they’re —
Q But we are going to keep them permanently?
MR. McCLELLAN: — the reasons they’re being detained are valid reasons.
Oh yeah, Helen Thomas is THE SHIT.
Like it? then you’ll love the follow-up questions.
Q Is there a reason that you’re keeping these people indefinitely in Guantanamo because of —
Q You are keeping them indefinitely because of lack of evidence against them. Is that —
Q Okay, but is the premise right to say that you are going to keep them without trial —
Q But so you agree with them that they’re going to be locked up for a longer time because of lack of evidence against them, and therefore, you can’t bring them to trial —
Q So you presume they are guilty until you’ve proven that they are innocent; is that the case?
And the second follow-up
Q Scott, could you explain what is humane about detaining somebody who’s not been charged with anything for the rest of their life? What is humane about that?
Q So if you’re a nation of laws and values, and yet the war on terrorism is a different kind of war, does it mean then that our law is not necessarily applicable within the war on terrorism? That’s what I’m hearing.
Yes, yes, yes! Take note, Scottie. When it comes to matching wits with Helen Thomas, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.