ABC Hypes Potential Gitmo Closing: ‘Allegations of Waterboarding...Have Turned This Place Into A Terrorist Recruiters Dream’

With the exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for the release of five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay complete, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos used the opportunity to promote the possibility of Gitmo closing its doors. 

On Sunday, June 8, Byron Pitts, ABC’s Chief National Correspondent peddled the line that “700 men have come through Gitmo since the beginning of the war on terror when these pictures of shackled and hooded men shock the world. Some say past allegations of waterboarding and hunger strikes have turned this place into a terrorist recruiters dream.” [See video below.] 

The segment began with George Stephanopoulos pushing the liberal narrative that “The debate over Bowe Bergdahl has brought Guantanamo back in the headlines” before lamenting how “President Obama pledged to shut the prison down during his 2008 campaign but six years later it is still there.”

Pitts began his segment by complaining: 

Justice moves slowly at Guantanamo Bay. Of the 149 who remain inside the wire, some like alleged 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will face trial. But many others, like the five Taliban commanders freed in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, were never charged...700 men have come through Gitmo since the beginning of the war on terror when these pictures of shackled and hooded men shock the world. Some say past allegations of waterboarding and hunger strikes have turned this place into a terrorist recruiters dream.

The segment included a quote from human right lawyer David Remes fretting that “These men are ghosts. They're not being held for who they are. They're being held for our idea of who they are.”

While Pitts did include soundbites from individuals who expressed concern over losing control over some prisoners Guantanamo Bay, the introductory commentary that promoted liberal talking points created a theme in favor of advocating for Gitmo’s closing.

See relevant transcript below. 


ABC

This Week with George Stephanopoulos

June 8, 2014

10:16 a.m. Eastern 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The debate over Bowe Bergdahl has brought Guantanamo back in the headlines. President Obama pledged to shut the prison down during his 2008 campaign but six years later it is still there and ABC's Chief National Correspondent Byron Pitts got a rare look inside.

BYRON PITTS: Justice moves slowly at Guantanamo Bay. Of the 149 who remain inside the wire, some like alleged 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will face trial. But many others, like the five Taliban commanders freed in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, were never charged. At this point, we're standing no more than ten feet away from the detainees. They can't see us though. This glass we're looking through is one-sided. We can see in but they can’t see out. Inside one camp it's dark. We're asked to keep quiet.

UNKNOWN WOMAN: They're calling for the guards so, you guys can't be seen. 

PITTS: We step back. We noticed when the guards went in they wore those protective shields to protect their faces. I’m whispering because that’s what’s required in this space. Shields we’re told protect from cocktails of urine and feces that have been hurled in their direction. A few minutes later, afternoon prayer begins and we're soon escorted out. 700 men have come through Gitmo since the beginning of the war on terror when these pictures of shackled and hooded men shock the world. Some say past allegations of waterboarding and hunger strikes have turned this place into a terrorist recruiters dream. 

DAVID REMES: These men are ghosts. They're not being held for who they are. They're being held for our idea of who they are. 

PITTS: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has final sign-off on transfers and The White House has been pressuring him to pick up the pace of transferring low-level detainees. National Security Adviser Susan Rice reportedly asking last month for updates “every two weeks." Admiral Richard Butler Commander of the Joint Detention Center. How concerned should the American public be you think? At some point, this place will close, those detainees will be released or transferred. 

RICHARD BUTLER: As a private citizen, and a military officer, I think we need to be concerned about it. 

PITTS: Why? 

BUTLER: Once we transfer them to another country, we're obviously losing control over that. 

PITTS: Nearly half the men here have already been cleared to leave by an independent review panel. These men identified as everything from bodyguards to drivers, wait behind bars for Hagel's transfer order which depends on whether there’s a country that will take them and if tat country meets U.S. security requirements. The Obama envoy tasked with closing Gitmo says the other, more dangerous detainees may need to be transferred to U.S. prisons, that would require a change in U.S. law. So you believe at some point, that some of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay will serve their time on U.S. soil?

CLIFFORD SLOAN: Yes, I do. 

PITTS: I can hear some folks in Congress saying, over my dead body.

SLOAN: In addition to other issues with Guantanamo, it is enormously expensive. 

PITTS: So, as the sun sets on Gitmo, the dilemma -- which of these prisoners pose a continuing threat and where should they go? For "This Week," Byron Pitts, ABC News, Guantanamo Bay.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.