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Obama to Unveil Guantanamo Closure Plan; Republicans Brace for Nevada Caucuses; Syrian Government Signs On to Cease-Fire Deal; Bill Gates Sides with FBI in iPhone Hack Debate. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 23, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, President Obama's new proposal to close Guantanamo Bay prison.
Donald Trump goes for his third win in Nevada.
And Bill Gates backs the FBI in the fight against Apple.
CURNOW: Hello, everyone. Welcome. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.
This hour, the U.S. president, Barack Obama is set to unveil a plan to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. The controversial U.S. military
detention facility in Cuba was created after the September 11 attacks. It holds terror suspects captured overseas.
Mr. Obama pledged to close the facility as one of his first acts in office but, seven years later, he's still working to deliver on that promise.
About 780 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo over the years. Today only 91 detainees remain. Some 2,000 military and civilian personnel staff
Well, our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is covering the story from Washington. Patrick Oppmann joins us from Havana, Cuba.
Elise, you first.
How much detail will President Obama give and how many options does he really have left?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, I think he's going to give the very broad strokes of what the administration prepares to do.
Look, there are 91 detainees left. They hope about 35 or so will be moved out in the coming months.
And a lot of this hinges on others that can be released to be sent to their home country or to third countries. Those that remain -- and the
administration is really trying to whittle this down to the most dangerous -- it remains unclear what the president could do.
He wants to move them to U.S. federal prisons and we understand the plan that he'll unveil today will say that the U.S. is looking at about 13
federal prisons and military prisons. They named the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. There's also one in South Carolina, one in Colorado.
But we don't expect great detail about where they will be moved and how will they be moved because, you know, federal law right now prohibits the
transfer of detainees to the United States. The Republicans in Congress are saying they're going to remain very firm on that.
The president arguing that he, as commander in chief, has the authority and those laws are unconstitutional.
CURNOW: But it's unclear if unilateral action really has been ruled out. That's a conversation, tough one that's been had in Congress.
Patrick, to you, human rights campaigners have rallied about conditions in Guantanamo for years now.
What do the Cubans want?
And will it be an issue when Obama visits next month?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, we can absolutely expect it to come up. And you know, the space, in many ways, following the attacks of
September 11th, was the perfect spot to hide -- to have high-value prisoners, people that they'd caught in the war in terror in Afghanistan
and other places.
But it's just so isolated because the Cuban government, since the revolution, has basically wanted the U.S. to move the base from Cuban
territory but has not been able to do that because -- and this is one of the oldest bases the U.S. has anywhere in the world overseas and it is
really kind of a relic of the Cold War because on both sides of this base, which you know, is about 120 square kilometers -- it's in Eastern Cuba --
and it's bristling on both sides with Cuban and U.S. military.
You had the largest minefields at one point in the world between the sort of no-man's land between U.S. and Cuban territory. So in a lot of ways, it
was the perfect place to guard these high-value targets.
But critics have said that that isolation led to some of the worst abuses of the war on terror, some things like force feedings, waterboarding, the
use of dogs in interrogations. So it really became a symbol of the darkest episodes of the war on terror.
And now President Obama, you know, from the beginning of his administration, really said they want to end this chapter in the war on
terror and we'll just see if that's going to be possible.
Of course, the base, though, is not closing and high administration officials in the Obama administration have said they know the Cubans will
bring this up when President Obama comes here next month but it is just not open for closing. They very much want to close the prison but the base is
expected to remain, at least for the near future.
CURNOW: Yes, that's an important point. Thanks, Patrick.
Elise, to you.
Why is it such a toxic notion to house terror suspects on U.S. soil?
Where, then, would they go, both inside and outside the U.S.?
LABOTT: Well, I mean, we don't -- like I said, the U.S. is trying to -- the ones that are the really most dangerous, they're not going to let go.
They have to do something with them. Some of them will be facing U.S. --
LABOTT: -- military tribunals. Others, if the administration wants to and can close the base, it wants to bring them to the most maximum security
federal and military prisons here in the United States.
I mean, basically, what you've heard from Republicans in Congress is that these suspects, these inmates are just way too dangerous to have on U.S.
soil. I don't think it's a reputational thing; I think it's the perception that these are the most dangerous threats to the U.S. national security.
And so they just don't want them here in the United States. You know, you have a problem with some of them. They may not be the most dangerous of
the dangerous but the U.S. also can't make a case against them and they can't place them somewhere else.
So the thought is, what can the U.S. do with these individuals?
Some of them will be pleading to lesser charges in U.S. federal courts. Others will be held in perpetuity because the U.S. cannot make charges
against them but also can't send them anywhere else.
CURNOW: OK. Elise Labott and Patrick Oppmann there in Havana, thanks so much for your perspective.
CURNOW: Moving on. Democratic opponents, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, are pushing hard for votes before Saturday's South Carolina
primary. Every state, every delegate is crucial, especially with next week's crucial Super Tuesday looming on the horizon.
Well, CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins me now live from Columbia, South Carolina.
Hi, there, Jeff.
Is this the time now that Hillary Clinton pulls ahead?
How critical is the coming primary?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The South Carolina primary's very, very important. It's the first primary in the South,
Robyn, so that is the first indication of what voters here in this part of the country say.
And it is very important for Secretary Clinton, simply because it's going to sort of determine if that Nevada outcome on Saturday, where she won
somewhat narrowly, is actually going to be ratified. So it very important to her.
One thing I'm struck by here in South Carolina is that they aren't taking anything for granted at all. They are trying to maybe not run up the
margin but have a significant victory against Bernie Sanders to show that she is the candidate who is more acceptable to largely African American
voters, some 55 percent of the electorate here in 2008, the last time there was a Democratic primary, were African Americans. So she is trying to show
that she is the candidate that speaks to that constituency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): It's a bold base of support. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton.
Has she changed her tone in the last few weeks?
Has she regrouped?
Is it working?
ZELENY (voice-over): She has changed her tone. I mean, she is not repeating what's largely viewed as a miscalculation of her campaign. It
was sort of underestimating and ignoring Bernie Sanders.
They are not doing that at all anymore, Robyn. They are defining him. She spends significant time, every time she speaks now in her speeches, saying
that he is a single-issue candidate. He's only talking about Wall Street. His plans are not realistic. So she is absolutely working to define him.
And that is different than we saw a few weeks or so ago. They were once afraid of the backlash that could come from his supporters if she was a
little too harsh or negative on him but those days are over. She is trying to define him and she's trying to win.
But this is going to be a delegate fight, as you said at the beginning. So this is not going to be over next week or the week after that. This is
going to go on a considerable amount of time.
And Senator Sanders is sending the message that he is going to start fighting back as well. He called on her yesterday to release these
transcripts of these paid speeches she gave to some Wall Street firms. So this is going to get little ugly here on the Democratic side as well. But
nothing in comparison to the Republican side of this race here in the United States -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, that's been a whole different conversation, hasn't it?
Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
ZELENY: Whole different conversation.
ZELENY: Have a great day.
CURNOW: Well, let's talk to another conversation ahead of South Carolina's primary, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders come face-to-face with voters
right here on CNN. Chris Cuomo hosts a Democratic town hall, a lot of talking, live from Columbia, South Carolina. That's Wednesday morning at
9:00 am in Hong Kong.
Well, Republicans are shifting into high gear for Tuesday's caucuses in Nevada. Five candidates remain, with outspoken billionaire Donald Trump
still out-pacing his rivals. He'll need to take Nevada to maintain his snowball momentum going into next week's Super Tuesday voting bonanza.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio desperately need a win to keep their campaigns from stalling.
Well, CNN's Sara Murray explains tonight's --
CURNOW: -- tense dynamic.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is hoping to lock in another win in Nevada.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Forget the word caucus.
Just go out and vote, OK?
MURRAY (voice-over): While Marco Rubio appears set on amassing endorsements.
BOB DOLE, REPUBLICAN: I'm supporting Rubio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's conservative and he's electable.
MURRAY (voice-over): And is arguing it's time for Republicans to rally behind him as the alternative to Trump -- before it's too late.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we nominate someone that half of the Republican Party hates, we're going to be fighting against
each other all the way to November. We will never win that way.
MURRAY (voice-over): But right now, Donald Trump's blows are firmly trained on Ted Cruz.
TRUMP: This guy is sick. There's something wrong with this guy.
MURRAY (voice-over): Just hours before voters cast their ballots in the unpredictable caucus state of Nevada --
TRUMP: You know, it is Las Vegas; it's a little tricky, a little tricky.
MURRAY (voice-over): -- Cruz was still trying to nix the narrative that his campaign plays dirty.
TRUMP: This guy, Cruz, lies more than any human being I have ever dealt with. Unbelievable!
RUBIO: Every single day something comes out of the Cruz campaign that's deceptive and untrue.
MURRAY (voice-over): Yesterday Cruz fired his communications director.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This morning I asked for Rick Tyler's resignation.
MURRAY (voice-over): That's after the staffer distributed a video that appeared inaccurately to show Marco Rubio dismissing the Bible.
RUBIO: Perhaps that was the most offensive one because they basically made it up.
MURRAY (voice-over): As Cruz struggled to regroup, John Kasich had his own awkward campaign moment, saying women left their kitchens to support his
1970s statehouse bid.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: We just got an army of people who -- and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and to put
yard signs up for me.
MURRAY (voice-over): His offhand comment quickly called out by a voter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll come to support you but I won't be coming out of the kitchen.
KASICH: I got you. I got you.
CURNOW: Well, CNN's Sara Murray reporting there.
And if you're planning to protest at a Donald Trump rally, you might want to brace yourself for some of his patented tough talk -- or worse.
Trump lashed out against a man protesting at his event on Monday. Trump waxed on about the old days when protesters would, in his words, "be
carried out on stretchers." Trump made it clear how he would like to respond to the man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Here's a guy throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else when we're talking and he's walking out and we're not
allowed -- you know, the guards are very gentle with him. He's walking out, like big high fives, smiling, laughing. I'd like to punch him in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: And that's not a one-off visit. In November, if you remember, an activist was swarmed, punched and kicked at at a Trump event. Trump called
the activist's behavior "disgusting" and agreed that maybe he should have been roughed up.
Well, let's move on and give you an update on a time and a date to diarize. The five remaining Republican hopefuls will face off in a debate in
Houston, Texas, later this week. CNN's Wolf Blitzer will moderate. You can see CNN's got it covered from all angles. So you can see it here on
CNN on Friday morning at 9:30 in Hong Kong.
Well, still ahead, plans to pause the fighting in Syria.
Who's on board and what are the chances it will hold?
Plus, Afghan troops are abandoning parts of hard-fought Helmand province, leaving the region vulnerable to a Taliban takeover.
CURNOW: Welcome back. You're watching CNN.
Now in Syria, the government is signing on to a cease-fire that's due to take effect this week. However, the battlefield is very complicated and
the agreement doesn't include everyone who's fighting. Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Beirut to help sort it all out.
Still so many questions ahead of that midnight deadline.
What does it mean and is there optimism that the Syrian government will stick by this agreement now?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, after you heard Vladimir Putin yesterday, saying they'd do what it takes to get Damascus on
board with the deal, it's not surprising we heard this statement.
There is a little nuance, though, in the language, in which they say, like the deal does, that ISIS and the face of Al Qaeda in Syria, the Nusra
Front, are not part of the deal and can still be attacked.
But they go on to also say they may also defend themselves against Al Qaeda-linked groups. Now that, of course, in a Syrian battlefield, could
be widely interpreted. There are a number of different groups who, at some times, have fought alongside Nusra in an alliance or some even have pledged
allegiance to them.
So there is a very complicated picture here. And that will feed into the uncertainty over exactly what we see when the clock strikes midnight
between Friday and Saturday. Those who will adhere to the cease-fire have to have made that clear by noon Damascus time on Friday.
We still haven't heard from the Syrian-armed opposition, who are against the Damascus government here. It's apparently, according to one of the key
groups, Ahrar al-Sham, still a matter that they are discussing internally.
We've also, though, have heard from the political opposition, that they, perhaps, hope that they can bring the armed opposition along with them.
But that gives you an idea really of how complex this all is.
The key point in the agreement is that Nusra and ISIS can still be attacked. The West says that Russia hasn't been, as it claims, attacking
ISIS these past weeks but has instead has been attacking the moderate opposition. That's pretty much been borne out by events on the ground.
But it is that level of latitude, potentially, for these Al Qaeda-linked groups to maybe still be hit under the terms of the actual deal themselves
that has many deeply concerned.
CURNOW: OK, some observers, some critics are concerned that this is all merely an opportunity for the Syrian government, supported by Russia, to
WALSH: Yes, but at this stage, they're sort of oddly under pressure from another front: on the southeastern area of Aleppo, ISIS have just moved in
against the regime to take a key town called Azaz (ph), which potentially jeopardizes the regime's ability to keep moving north towards and further
north that key commercial hub of Aleppo.
But yes, the broader fear, as critics of Russia have said in the past, when referring to its policy in Ukraine, is they talk cease-fire but continue to
pursue military objectives on the ground. We simply don't know what's going to happen late Friday. Many have looked at Russia's investment here,
thought it can't be that long; maybe this deal is some kind of off-ramp for them where they can say, look, Damascus, we've consolidated your position
here, now it's time for us to perhaps step back.
But there are so many wild cards here, the British warning that the Syrian Kurds, who have recently moved themselves against Syrian moderate
opposition rebels who received American backing, the same Syrian Kurds who themselves get American backing, that they may, according to the British,
worryingly have been communicating or getting assistance with the Syrian regime or the Russians.
So so much complexity, so much nuance, potentially, here about who could be targeted still under the deal. But I think we have a long shot maybe to
see guns fall totally silent for a protracted period, Friday through to Saturday. -- Robyn.
CURNOW: As always, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for your analysis.
Well, you're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still ahead, Bill Gates is backing the U.S. government in its fight against Apple. Why he says Apple should
help unlock a phone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters.
CURNOW: Bill Gates is siding with U.S. investigators in their legal battle with Apple. The Microsoft co-founder told the "Financial Times" that Apple
should unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.
Apple says to do so, it would need to create new software that could undermine the security of any iPhone but Gates accused the company of
mischaracterizing the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES, ENTREPRENEUR: Apple has access to the information. They're just refusing to provide the access and the courts will tell them whether
to provide the access or not.
You shouldn't call the access some special thing. It's no different than, you know, should anybody have ever been able to tell the phone company to
get information; bank records, should anybody be able to get at bank records?
There's no difference between information. The government's come asking for a specific set of information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Bill Gates there.
Well, in the coming hours, protesters plan to rally at Apple stores across the world in support of the tech giant. Well, CNNMoney business
correspondent Samuel Burke has been following the story for us. He's in London.
Hi, there, Sam. Tell us about these protests.
How much support does Apple have globally?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protest in Hong Kong actually didn't happen. It looked like it was a total dud and nobody showed up and
so it was canceled.
The next protest is scheduled to actually take place a few steps just behind me, here in London at Europe's flagship Apple store. And after
that, then it's supposed to go in the United States.
It's hard to know exactly how the people feel overall. We don't have the type of polling here like you have in the United States, showing that 51
percent of Americans think that Apple should give the FBI access.
That said, I think you have to remember that this is a continent. Here in Europe, where they have pushed through a lot stronger privacy rules than
they have in the United States, here in Europe, we have the right to be forgotten. If somebody writes something about you and it ends up on Google
and you want to remove it, now you can remove it. That's the law of the land.
And of course, there's the backdrop of the alleged eavesdropping of Angela Merkel in Germany by the United States. So I think people are sympathetic.
Anybody who sees those terrorist attacks, no matter where you are in the world, you want to prevent them.
But I think people are a bit more skeptical. And the thing that's so important about this, Robyn, no matter where you are in the world, so many
people have an iPhone and they know that this is going to affect them. It's not just going to be the United States government that wants access.
CURNOW: Yes, I mean, this is a global conversation that needs to be had.
And with that in mind, has Apple, have the tech companies really explained the power of encryption?
Particularly, you're referring to that one study that says more than 50 percent of Americans are supporting the government in this.
BURKE: I think that the tech companies have done a good job explaining what encryption is. I don't think that they've done a good job at all of
explaining what will happen without it.
I'm not going to take a side here. I'm a journalist, Robyn. But as the person covering tech for CNN, I feel an obligation to tell the viewers what
I hear from almost every tech executive with whom I speak, minus Bill Gates, who spoke with the "FT."
If you create a back door, inevitably, it won't just be the United States using it one time; it will be the United States using it over and over
again. And that back door will allow hackers and other governments, friendly or not, to get in.
It's easy to say just let them in this one time. I've covered so many hacking stories on your show and people say, what can we do?
This is Apple's answer: we make it so safe that no one can get in. If you create that back door, it's nearly unanimous in the tech community, people
will get in, not just the United States government.
CURNOW: It's a tough one, isn't it?
Samuel Burke, thanks so much.
Well, another part of the encryption debate, apps that let you communicate securely and secretly. Telegram now has more than 100 million active
users. Our Erin McLaughlin spoke with the creator, who explains why there is a need for an encrypted app.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man at the center of the global encryption debate. Russian exile Pavel Durov says he
prefers to remain in the shadows. A self-described introvert, normally he doesn't give television interviews. Durov says he wants to explain the
company he co-founded, Telegram.
It's a messaging app that you download for free on your smartphone. Telegram offers encrypted communication, the kind authorities can't easily
intercept. The app's found on the phones of journalists, activists and business leaders.
But Telegram has a darker side. It was also found on terrorists' phones on the bloodied streets of Paris.
MCLAUGHLIN: Did that thought cross your mind, when you saw what was happening in Paris, that Telegram could be involved?
Did you think about it?
PAVEL DUROV, TECH ENTREPRENEUR: You know, of course, we are concerned about the potential use of the technology we make.
MCLAUGHLIN: So you were concerned?
DUROV: Of course.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): ISIS later used Telegram to claim responsibility for the attacks.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you feel that Telegram is in any way responsible for what happened?
DUROV: I don't think so. They were also using iPhones and Android phones and microchips. It's kind of misleading to say that we were responsible or
any other tech company's responsible for that.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): But many say technology is part of the problem.
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremis,
with a signed warrant from the home secretary personally, that we cannot read?
DUROV: You cannot make messaging technology secure for everybody except for terrorists. So it's either secure or not secure.
MCLAUGHLIN: This isn't just about terrorism, it's also about criminals, drugs, human traffickers, pedophiles, all have access to your app.
DUROV: When I was living in Russia a few years ago, all of these activities were used as a pretext to monitor the communication of Russian
citizens and then, in many cases, used to suppress dissidents and liberal thinking.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It was 2011. Mass opposition protests in the streets of Moscow. Durov was the CEO of the company he founded, VK,
Russia's equivalent to Facebook. He says he publicly refused to block pages of Russian opposition activists.
DUROV: I had a group of armed policemen trying to get into my home. Then I started to think about ways to, like, defend myself, get in touch with my
brother. And I realized that there are very few options for us to communicate securely.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Durov eventually lost control of VK and left Russia. He started Telegram, believing people have a right to secure
communication. The question many are now asking -- at what price? Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
CURNOW: Great stuff from Erin. Thank you so much.
Still ahead, we're waiting to hear from Barack Obama and one of the priorities of his presidency, closing Guantanamo Bay, the detention center.
Those are live pictures of the podium in the Roosevelt Room.
When and how will it happen?
He'll have the details.
CURNOW: You're watching CNN. This is the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thank you so much for joining me.
I'm going to take you straight now to the White House, where President Barack Obama is talking.
CURNOW: U.S. President Barack Obama laying out a plan, he says, not just for the closing of Guantanamo Bay but also a closing of a chapter in
So we are covering the story from all angles. CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott and CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic
Robertson joining us from London.
Elise, I'm going it start with you. That was a very emphatic, pleading kind of message. He's laid out a four-point plan.
Can he do it, though?
LABOTT: Well, it's very unclear, Robyn. I mean, look, the president feels that he has, as commander in chief, the authority to do something like this
under executive order.
You'll note that he was not as emphatic about what he would do in terms of getting this through. The administration has talked a lot about, you know,
the law and how, even though there are some provisions in U.S. law that say that the U.S. can't transfer detainees and the military has also said,
listen, we will not transfer them to the U.S. under these laws, the president feels that that's unconstitutional.
And so, he has executive authority to do so. It remains very unclear whether he's willing to take that step and what Congress would do if he
does. I mean, a lot of this hinges on how much the U.S. can reduce the population there.
And the president said that they have about 35 that they're planning to move in the next few months. State Department officials tell me they are
vigorously trying to reduce the population even further.
There are, I would say, roughly about 50 more detainees that could be eligible for a hearing to see whether they could be released. And the
administration has said that there will be periodic reviews of their detention.
LABOTT: So the smaller you can reduce the population -- you know, it's dipped below 100 for the first time since it opened. When you're talking
about maybe a couple of dozen or, you know, 3 or 4 dozen detainees, that's a lot different than over 100. So it remains very unclear.
I think the president laid out broad strokes of what he wanted to do. He made a very impassioned argument, that this is closing a chapter in
American history. As you said, this is un-American, this is a recruitment tool for terrorists but he did not speak very specifically about how he
plans to get this done.
CURNOW: And also, Nic Robertson, I mean, President Obama referred to it there -- this has become a lightning rod, a symbolic stain on America's
rule of law. He spoke about how it's an issue that is raised repeatedly, you know, in conversations with foreign leaders. You've spoken to a number
of former Guantanamo detainees, to human rights activists. And this really is a very sore point globally.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is and that's something that, clearly, he feels, because he's at the front end of it when
world leaders come to him and say, OK, you know, you speak to us about this, about human rights, et cetera, yet you've got people locked up in
Guantanamo Bay for over a decade and they haven't been convicted yet.
So this is something that he will feel very keenly and also aware, as well, about how groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda recently have become much more
effective through their propaganda means and how places like Guantanamo Bay, that feature, perhaps not so much recently in the sorts of recruitment
videos that these organizations, these terrorist organizations put out, but is a recurring theme.
You're never going to shut those groups off from this type of propaganda. But you are going to take away some of the message. So these are things
that he feels keenly.
People I've talked to, who have been in Guantanamo Bay, former Taliban ministers, the former foreign minister was in there, I interviewed him; the
former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, he was in Guantanamo Bay. I talked to him.
A young Saudi boy was one of the early ones to be released, actually taken back to his family, didn't have to go back to jail, kept under close
monitoring. As far as I know, he didn't transgress again.
And you have the Guantanamo five Taliban, who were released just a couple years ago in exchange for the U.S. sergeant, Bowe Bergdahl, who was being
held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
You know, what the detainees told me was they felt that their experience -- during their experience in Guantanamo -- that they were abused. This is
something that they weren't afraid to talk about publicly. But they didn't go and shout it from the pulpits, if you will.
They didn't -- once they had been in, they were released under conditions that really did keep them, to a degree, quiet and out of the political mix
and out of the rabble-rousing mix.
So those that were released, generally speaking, did go into lives that kept them away from the terrorist front lines. Of course, not all. But
again, coming back to your central point, this is something that President Obama has really had to deal with personally and it is a very personal
thing for him, clearly.
And Elise, personal and political. He said this was a complex piece of business, which kind of really underestimates just how difficult an issue
There is, in a way, two different types of detainees: those who are considered too dangerous -- and there needs to be a plan on what to do with
them, possibly a prison, a high-security prison in the U.S. -- that, of course, is controversial. Then there is this plan to try and ship them
outside of the U.S. to other countries, a third country.
Who are these countries?
Which countries are these?
And what kind of process is involved in trying to negotiate this?
LABOTT: Well, it's painstaking negotiations, State Department officials say. And both Secretary of State Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary
Clinton, have been very involved in the negotiations on trying to resettle them. It is really hard ask of the United States to say to a country,
please take these people that have been branded by the world as terrorists.
I mean, you know, some of them, you know, what they did was really questionable. But the perception in a lot of cases is the reality and
these people are seen as terrorists. And a lot of times, the U.S. is just counting on its own goodwill.
Sometimes it will give some inducements, like some aid. But it really doesn't have anything to offer in terms of these countries taking people.
There are about 26 countries throughout Europe, throughout Latin America. Oman has taken 20. That's the largest of any country. And 10 DMEs from
Yemen just went there last month. But it's --
LABOTT: -- usually onesies and twosies in these 26 countries. There are some more countries that will be taking these 35.
But these are very difficult negotiations. Officials compare it to a game of chess, if you will. A lot of pieces have to be in place. And then even
when there is a deal, the detainee himself has to agree. There was one detainee, who was on the tarmac and the plane was about to take off and
then he scuttled the whole deal and said, no, I won't go.
So these are very painstaking negotiations to try and whittle down that population and get them out. And that's really what the administration is
hoping on, that they could have as few detainees to implement, to bring back to the United States, as possible.
CURNOW: Indeed, Elise.
Nic, quickly to you. Again, we've been seeing some images as we've been talking about this of some of those detainees. They're wearing orange
jumpsuits. We've seen some of the beheadings by ISIS. Those men and women who have been kidnapped wearing orange jumpsuits. There is a very clear,
symbolic line between that.
Just give us again why Guantanamo has become such a flashpoint and, particularly, when it comes to those enhanced interrogation techniques and
why Mr. Obama is so keen for that to no longer exist as a possibility for propaganda.
ROBERTSON: You look at today, for example, the latest video released by ISIS, a resurgent ISIS in Afghanistan. So not just Al Qaeda, not just the
Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS today in Afghanistan released a video of an execution of a man there. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit.
This is absolutely de rigueur for ISIS. We saw this in Iraq, going back to the mid-2000s. And this image is something that the end of Guantanamo Bay
won't shut down forever. But it can at least move the memory on and, eventually, it will fade.
CURNOW: Nic, Elise, thank you so much for your analysis and perspective. Appreciate it, guys.
I'm Robyn Curnow. You've been watching INTERNATIONAL DESK. Thanks so much. "CONNECT THE WORLD" with Zain Asher is up next.