Bush Disagrees With Court's Guantanamo Ruling

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"We'll abide by the court's decision," Bush said during a news conference in Rome. "That doesn't mean I have to agree with it." The court's decision was sure to be popular in Europe, where many leaders have called for the closing of Guantanamo.

[Guantanamo: The Supremes Decide]

 

President Bush on Thursday strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that clears foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Bush suggested new legislation may now be needed to keep the American people safe.


"We'll abide by the court's decision," Bush said during a news conference in Rome. "That doesn't mean I have to agree with it." The court's decision was sure to be popular in Europe, where many leaders have called for the closing of Guantanamo.

 


In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.


"It was a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented," Bush said. "And that dissent was based upon their serious concerns about U.S. national security."


Bush said his administration will study the ruling. "We'll do this with this in mind — to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate so we can safely say to the American people, 'We're doing everything we can to protect you.'"


The president, meeting with allies in a farewell tour of Europe, was reminded again that his time in office is fleeting. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was asked which U.S. president he would like to see next — Sen. John McCain of Arizona or Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.


"I suppose I could express my own personal preference for one of the candidates, the Republican candidate," Berlusconi said. "And this is for a very selfish reason, and that is that I would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming G-8 (meeting) because McCain is a month older than me." McCain is 71.


On soaring oil prices, the president made clear that the United States would send a high-level official to a summit recently announced by Saudi Arabia. The upcoming meeting is designed to gather oil producing countries and consumer nations. Bush made clear he would not be the one attending.


The Saudis are concerned that sustained high oil prices will eventually slacken the world's appetite for oil, affecting them in the long run. Saudi Arabia holds the world's largest oil reserve.


"The prices of gas are high and the American people don't like it and I can understand why they don't like it," Bush said.


"I said it's an interesting idea, I need to get home and study it," Bush said of the oil summit. "We'll send someone high-level here."


Bush's trip, which stretches from Slovenia to Northern Ireland, has largely been dominated by the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. He has also confronted matters of climate change, Mideast peace and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


But he made a point to show those watching and listening in the U.S. that he was not overlooking the devastating weather that has hit back home.


In an opening statement at the news conference, Bush said, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the terrible tornadoes and flooding, especially those who've lost loved ones. We've been inspired by the stories of heroism, neighbors helping neighbors and communities coming together. It's a really tough time for the people in the midwestern part of the United States and they'll have the prayers of the American people."


Bush praised Italy for committing troops to trouble spots around the world, including more than 2,000 Italian troops toward the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Italy, along with Germany, France and Spain, have restricted their troops to less dangerous areas in northern Afghanistan — and that has caused a rift because other NATO members are deployed in the more violent regions of the nation.


Berlusconi said during the news conference that he and Bush had discussed his government's willingness to lift some restrictions, and in fact his government is taking steps to give Italian forces more flexibility that could mean temporary deployments in more volatile areas. Based on assurances from the Italians, Bush stated flatly that he was pleased to learn that "the caveats that have restricted your forces in Afghanistan have been removed."


Unlike other European leaders, such as former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former French President Jacques Chirac, Berlusconi supported Bush on Iraq from the start. The 71-year-old media mogul defied domestic opposition and dispatched about 3,000 troops to Iraq after the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.


Those troops came home, and Berlusconi, recently elected to his third stint in power since 1994, has pledged not to send any back.


 


 

 

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