Rumsfeld softens on Gitmo?

Speaking at Luxembourg on a tour of NATO countries one day after ruling out closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Donald Rumsfeld responded to reporters’ questions on the issue: “Our goal is not to obviously have these people, but to have them off the street, but in the hands of the countries of origin, for the most part.” However, he said Washington is waiting until Iraqi and Afghan authorities have the ability to handle dangerous prisoners.

“We have some that we would be delighted to release, large numbers as a matter of fact that we would like to give to the Iraqi government. But they lack the appropriate prisons, and the criminal justice system, at the present time to manage them and try them. We’ve been urging the Afghan government to get itself arranged with the appropriate kinds of prisons and criminal justice system, so that they could take the Afghans off our hands.” (VOA, June 9)

For those who have been following the scandal over rendition, in which prisoners are sent to countries with sketchy human rights records, Rumsfeld’s comments may not be so comforting.