In a wide ranging interview on NBC’s Meet the Press this morning, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell talked about the Iraq war and the need to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). Powell is sure to add to the ulcers of members of the Bush administration by characterizing the Iraq war as a civil war, and once again stressing that the troop surge only, “puts a bigger lid” on the boiling pot in Iraq.

The general made it clear that he thinks the military element is only one part of what he called a three legged strategy. He said the two most important legs of the strategy are the Iraqis being responsible for their own security, and a stronger Iraqi government. He said that these two legs were not doing well.  It was obvious during the interview that Powell is still angry about the faulty intelligence on Iraq that he used in his address to the U.N. Powell said that his argument for going to war was based on weapons of mass destruction, and without WMD’s he didn’t see a solid argument for invading Iraq.

On the topic of GITMO Powell said, “Guantanamo has become a major, major problem … in the way the world perceives America and if it were up to me I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon … and I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. Essentially, we have shaken the belief the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We don’t need it and it is causing us far more damage than any good we get for it. “I would get rid of Guantanamo and the military commission system and use established procedures in federal law. It’s a more equitable way, and more understandable in constitutional terms.”

Powell is exactly right, but what he is forgetting is that the administration doesn’t have much or any credible evidence against most of the 380 people being held there. There is a reason why the Bush administration wanted a separate legal system for detainees that denied them representation, the ability to examine the evidence against them, and admitted hearsay as evidence. That reason is that they don’t have strong cases against most of these people. How can the administration be claiming to spread democracy and freedom while at the same time running a detention center that violates the principles of our justice system? The point isn’t whether or not the detainees are entitled to these rights, but it is a matter of America practicing what it preaches and setting a good example for the rest of the world.

As a security measure, it would be better if detainees were housed in a remote super max facility somewhere, where they could be guarded and administered to by trained professionals, not military personnel. If those who were involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing can be tried, convicted, and imprisoned in the United States, then I am certain that these detainees can be as well. After watching this interview, I am convinced that Colin Powell is the one Republican who could win the presidency right now.

It is also interesting that towards the end of the interview, Powell said he is free to give foreign policy advice to anyone who asks. Russert mentioned Barack Obama and Powell said that he has met twice with Obama. Powell once again said that he is not interested in running for office, but he would be interested in returning to government. He also declined to say who he will endorse in 2008, or if he will endorse the GOP nominee. He said he will endorse the best person for the job and left it at that.

Gitmo quotes came from this article.

You can watch the complete interview right here

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at
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