A day after the president defended the decision to close the jail, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said alarm over shuttering the prison at Guantanamo Bay and relocating prisoners at the facility is "fear-mongering."
"There' a lot of fear-mongering about this," Gates said on the "Today" show. "We've never had an escape from a super max prison. And that's where these guys are going to go."
Gates, who served in the Bush administration and now works under Obama, called Gitmo "one of the finest prisons in the world" during an interview with Matt Lauer that aired Friday.
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"But it has a taint," he said.
The defense secretary said Obama had no choice but the shut down the prison and his plan does not jeopardize the safety of Americans.
"I think that one of the points ... was that he had no interest whatsoever in releasing publicly detainees who might come back to harm Americans," Gates said.
President Barack Obama defended his plan to close the facility yesterday and called Gitmo a "mess" and a "misguided experiment" that is indicitive of the failed policies of the Bush administration. We "lost our way" in the fight against terror, Obama said.
Cheney took Obama to task over his national security policy in dueling speeches yesterday
"The [Obama] administraiton has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo," Cheney said. "But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will srve the interest of justice and America's national security."
Gates said there are a number of terror suspects in U.S. prisons and that they pose no threat to citiziens.
"We have many terrorists in U.S. prisons today," Gates said.