President Obama admits some Islamic terror suspects pose too great a threat to be released

President Barack Obama said one of the “biggest problems” in shutting down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be how to deal with Islamic terror suspects who pose too great a threat to be released.

“It’s a messy situation. It’s not easy,” Obama told C- SPAN in an interview. “We’ve got a lot of people there who we should have tried early, but we didn’t. In some cases, evidence against them has been compromised. They may be dangerous, in which case we can’t release them, so finding how to deal with that I think is going to be one of our biggest problems.”

Obama, who called the Bush administration’s policy of indefinitely holding prisoners in Guantanamo a “mistake,” said he’s spoken to former President George W. Bush since taking office in January. He didn’t elaborate on the conversations, saying, “I think the general policy of keeping confidence with the predecessors is important.”

The Democratic president defended his decision to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay by early next year in a speech two days ago in Washington. He said some choices made by Bush and his advisers in pursuing the war on terrorism were “ad hoc” and “hasty” and left behind a “mess.” He repeated the criticism in the C-SPAN interview, which will air in full today at 10 a.m., Washington time.

Corners Cut

“There was a period of time after 9/11, understandably because people were fearful, where I think we cut too many corners and made some decisions that were contrary to who we are as a people,” Obama told the cable-television network.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush’s administration’s actions in a May 21 speech in Washington.

Cheney said the Bush administration employed tactics after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that saved lives, including using harsh interrogation techniques. He said he would support those decisions again “without hesitation.”

Obama has banned the interrogation techniques in question, including simulated drowning, or water boarding. He contends the measures betray the country’s “ideals” and aren’t necessary to “wage an aggressive battle against organizations like al-Qaeda that want to do us harm.”

“I’m confident that we are stronger when we uphold our principles, that we are weaker when we start pushing them aside,” he told C-SPAN.

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