Former NSA director and Playing to the Edge author Michael Hayden told HuffPost Live on Tuesday that his chief concern about President Obama's plans to close the controversial Guantánamo Bay detention facility is the legal implications of moving the center's detainees to the United States.
"What changes in the legal status of those people [who] we will continue to keep … once you bring them onto American soil?" Hayden asked host Alyona Minkovksi. "What real or alleged rights or privileges will now accrue to them because they're not in Cuba, but the United States?"
President Obama, who said the detainment facility serves as a recruitment tool and "drains military resources," has pushed to close the facility in a last ditch effort to fulfill one of his campaign promises. While the plan seeks to move 22 detainees to the U.S. for a tribunal or domestic trial, Hayden urged Obama to remember that there is "no absolute requirement" that the prisoners receive a fair trial on U.S. soil. Hayden said:
We are a belligerent. Two presidents and the American Congress have said we are at war with al Qaeda. We have the right to keep enemy combatants under the laws of armed conflict. There is no absolute requirement that people we capture in a war have to enter the American court system in order to be declared guilty of anything. I would love if President Obama … would embrace the reality that, because we are a nation at war, we can actually capture people and keep them as prisoners of war without ever putting them into an American court.
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Michael Hayden here.