Gitmo Controversy Pitted Bush Vs. Cheney

During his final years in office, President Bush said repeatedly he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo where suspected terrorists were being held indefinitely without trial. It turns out it was his own vice president who stood in the way, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

In 2005, then Pentagon official Matthew Waxman was part of an unsuccessful attempt to close Guantanamo.

"The vice president was among those who were generally determined to stick to the status quo," Waxman said.

Now that President Obama has ordered it closed, Cheney has denounced the decision as naive.

"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do everything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," Cheney said.

According to Cheney, 61 of the 530 prisoners released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration have already gone back to terrorism.

According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, there are 61 suspected cases of former detainees rejoining the fight, but so far only 18 have been confirmed.

Most have subsequently been killed or captured, but some, like one suicide bomber in Iraq, lived long enough to kill again.

Still, many in the Bush Administration believed Guantanamo was doing more harm than good. One senior counter-terrorism official at the time called it a "strategic defeat."

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.