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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Tape of Blair/Bush Briefing; Major Decisions Handed Down From Supreme Court
Aired June 28, 2004 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. There's a lot going on. Let's get straight to it. From the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Betty Nguyen in for Daryn Kagan.
Right now I'm told we want to go back to that tape listening to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair at the NATO Summit in Turkey.
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Today is obviously an important staging post on the journey of the people of Iraq toward a new future, one in which democracy replaces dictatorship, in which freedom replaces repression, and in which all the people of Iraq can look forward to the possibility and the hope of an Iraq that genuinely guarantees a future for people from whatever part of Iraq they come.
And I think it's just worth reflecting for a moment on what we now have before us. Because today, of course, is extremely important. It's the transfer of real and full sovereignty to the people and the government of Iraq. From now on, the coalition changes. We are there in support of Iraqi government and the Iraqi people.
And what you have very clearly, therefore, is, on one side, you have the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, the international community that has now spoken through the United Nations, who want a free, stable, pluralist, democratic Iraq.
And on the other hand, you have some of the former Saddam supporters, you have outside terrorists, you have fanatics and extremists of one sort or another, who want to stop the possibility of that new Iraq happening.
And of course, it's going to carry on being difficult and dangerous. There was a tragic loss of a British soldier today. Many American servicemen have died. Many Iraqi civilians have died. Many of those who are joining up to the new Iraqi security services have died, have given their lives. But they've all given their lives in the cause of trying to provide a different and better future for the people of Iraq.
And I think what is interesting about this situation is that, for those people who are there in Iraq causing this death and destruction, they have a very, very clear and simple objective. And the objective is not just to destabilize Iraq, to produce chaos, to produce bloodshed, to try and prevent democracy, the strategy of these terrorists is to try and prevent Iraq becoming a symbol of hope not just for the Iraqi people, but actually for their region and the wider world.
And that is why, in a very real sense, because al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are actually there in Iraq now, what is happening in Iraq, the battle in Iraq, the battle for Iraq and its future, if you like, is, in a genuine sense, the front line of the battle against terrorism and the new security threat that we face.
And that security threat is what has dominated our discussion here at the NATO summit. And that security threat, which is about this new and poisonous and evil form of extremism linked to a perversion of the true faith of Islam and repressive unstable states that proliferate in and deal in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, that security threat is the threat of our times.
And the reason why it is so important that NATO fulfills its functions in respect of Afghanistan and Iraq is that, in both those countries, the same struggle for democracy and freedom is going on.
And you can see in Afghanistan, yes, of course there are still tremendous difficulties. But 2.5 million refugees have returned there. Girls are now allowed to go to school. Several million of them actually were banned from school under the Taliban. Economic growth rates of 30 percent last year, 20 percent this year.
What is the struggle? The struggle in Afghanistan is the struggle between the majority of Afghans, 4 million of whom have already registered to vote, against Taliban elements, al Qaeda elements, people who want to drag the country backwards, who want to turn it back into a failed and repressive state.
And so that's why it's right for NATO to step up to the mat today and say, "We are going to extend the role of the security force." It's quite right for us to say, as the U.K., we will make a contribution in putting the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) force forward in 2006 to allow NATO to continue with its responsibilities. It's why it's right for us to look at the measures we need urgently in order to give the protection for the Afghans as they approach their September election date.
And in respect of Iraq, exactly the same issues arise. As I say, there again, you have people trying to get toward freedom and democracy and people trying to stop them.
And so our job has got to be, again, as an international community, to give them help. And that's why it's important that NATO helps with the training of the Iraqi security forces.
Everybody knows that, ultimately, we can be there in support. But as the Iraqis themselves will tell you, they know that ultimately their task, their responsibility is to make their country safe, and they want us to help. So that's what we're going to do: help with the training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces.
Just one final point I want to make, I thought we had an interesting set of discussions this morning and at lunch today. There was a very powerful speech that was made by the president of Latvia at our lunch today when we were discussing the question of what NATO should do to help Afghanistan and Iraq.
And I think it's sometimes a very useful reminder for some of the newest democracies in our world to tell us from a standpoint of immense moral force just what democracy means to people who have faced repression for so many years.
And she made a very powerful intervention that reminded us, and reminded me certainly, again of what it is that we are here to do.
We know the security threat we face. We know the ultimate answer to it is not just force of arms and security measures. It is ultimately the values of democracy and freedom and justice and the rule of law. And that's what we're trying to do.
And for NATO, after the end of the Cold War, after all the changes that have happened, I think it has its role today. It is to support that process of transition and change the world over.
Because ultimately, our best guarantee of security lies in the values that are not values that are American or British or Western values, but the values of humanity.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll answer a couple of questions.
Dick, you got a question? OK, why don't you ask it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Iraq's new prime minister has talked in recent days about the possibility of imposing martial law there as a way of restoring security.
Is that something that you think a new, emerging government should do, and particularly with the use of U.S. forces, who would have to be instrumental in doing it?
BUSH: You know, Prime Minister Allawi has, you know, fought tyranny. He's a guy that stood up to Saddam Hussein. He's a patriot. And every conversation I've had with him has been one that recognizes human liberty, human rights. He's a man who's willing to risk his life for a democratic future for Iraq.
Having said that, you know, he may take tough security measures to deal with Zarqawi. And he may have to. Zarqawi is a guy who beheads people on TV. He's a person that orders suiciders to kill women and children.
And so, Prime Minister Allawi, as the head of the sovereign government, may decide he's going to have to take some tough measures to deal with a brutal, cold-blooded killer. And our job is to help the Iraqis stand up forces that are able to deal with these thugs.
And it's tough, there's no question about it.
They can't whip our militaries. They can't whip our militaries.
What they can do is get on your TV screens and stand in front of your TV cameras and cut somebody's head off in order to try to cause us to cringe and retreat. That's their strongest weapon.
And we just -- Prime Minister Allawi has said publicly many times, you know, he will not cower in the face of such brutal murder, and neither will we, neither will we.
BLAIR: You've got to distinguish very carefully between two separate things.
The first is, undoubtedly the new Iraqi government will want to take tough security measures; they have to. I mean, they've got a situation where they've got these terrorists who are prepared to kill any number of innocent people.
And remember, the innocent Iraqis who are dying in Iraq today are dying because of these terrorist acts.
On the other hand, I know perfectly well from the discussions I've had not just with the prime minister, but with the other Iraqi ministers, their purpose is to take tough security measures, but in order to guarantee freedom for people, not to take it away.
So they're not going to be wanting to introduce martial law that takes away the basic freedoms of the people; on the contrary. They will be wanting to take tough security measures.
And we will want to help train their forces able to go out and get after the people doing this killing. But it's not going to be about taking away people's freedoms; it's going to be about allowing those freedoms to happen.
QUESTION: Could I ask both of you, just following on from that, do we in some sense then give the new Iraqi administration carte blanche to go after these people? The Iraqi defense minister was talking this morning about hunting down and eliminating the insurgents.
And if I could also just ask, do you now regard Germany and, in particular, France as shoulder to shoulder, alongside you after the difficult times you've had with them over the past 18 months?
BLAIR: On the first point, I don't think there's any question of the Iraqis -- no Iraqi minister has said this to me, of wanting to hunt people down, in the sense of kill people without a proper trial and, you know, end up taking away people's basic liberties. They don't want that at all.
But you've got to understand what they're faced with there. They're faced with a group of people who will kill any number of people and who will do the most terrible acts of barbarity. And why? In order to stop them getting a democratic and stable country. You know, as I keep saying to people, there are lots of things we thought might happen as a result of the conflict in Iraq. We were confident in military victory, but there were lots of things that we thought might happen.
We thought there might be a humanitarian crisis, and we made a lot of provision for that. We thought that maybe -- and we were told this by many people, many so called experts who said, "Well, you know, the Iraqis, they'll want a theological state. They won't want a proper democracy." These issues have actually either been dealt with or resolved themselves.
What we've got is a very simple problem to describe and a complicated problem to overcome. We have groups of terrorists and insurgents who will use suicide bombs, who do not care in the least about killing innocent people, who will do whatever it takes to stop the country functioning properly.
Now, in those circumstances, I don't blame at all the Iraqi ministers. Any of us would be doing this, as politicians in the same situation of wanting to get after those people and hunt them down. But they're not getting after them hunting them down in defiance of basic freedoms, but in order to help basic freedoms.
And so I don't think we should set this new thing away that somehow, you know, the new Iraqi government wants to, you know, somehow wants to put aside democracy and freedom and all the rest of it. The reason they're trying to stop the terrorists is so that democracy and freedom can flourish in Iraq.
Secondly, in relation to France and Germany, look, I mean, in their point of thinking, we haven't, you know, overcome the disagreement there was about whether the conflict was justified. I mean, there's no point in us standing here and saying, you know, all the previous disagreements have disappeared; they haven't.
On the other hand, what is important is you've got a United Nations resolution that has blessed the new government in Iraq. And you've got a situation in which we have accepted today that there is a good and sound NATO role, which is actually the only role we ever sought for NATO, of training and helping to train the Iraqis so that they can do their own security work, which is the request that they have made to us.
And in that sense, I think the international community has come together, and I welcome it.
BUSH: My sense is that there's a hope that we succeed, with all the nations sitting around the table. Everyone understands the stakes. And the stakes are high, particularly for those of us who recognize that the long-term defeat of terror will happen when freedom takes hold in the broader Middle East. It's the long-term solution.
And if you really think about what's happened since September the 11th, there's been some amazing progress. Pakistan has now joined the battle against al Qaeda. President Musharraf has made a concerted decision to go after al Qaeda, which hides in remote regions of his country on the Afghanistan border.
Libya has declared and produced its weapons programs that we're now destroying.
You know, Turkey's solid, a solid democracy here in the broader Middle East, which is a great example.
Afghanistan, which was a terrorist haven -- this is where the terrorists plotted and trained to come and kill, not only in America but elsewhere -- it's now heading toward elections. I mean, who ever thought Afghanistan was going to have elections? Three years ago, if you said, "Gosh, you think Afghanistan's going to have elections," I probably would have said no.
And so is Iraq; Iraq is headed toward elections, too.
I mean, it's substantial change in a quick period of time. And I think everybody sitting around the table is hopeful that democracy will serve as an agent of change in this part of the world.
In terms of, you know, hunting them down, look, the Iraqis understand what we know, that the best way to defend yourself is to go on the offense and find the killers before they kill. I presume that's what he was saying.
I haven't asked him about the language. I sometimes use that language myself, and I've used it because my most solemn duty is to defend my country, is to defend it from people that obviously are willing to kill innocent lives just like that.
And my position is, is the best way to defend yourself is to find the few, the few -- and I believe that's what he's saying, that we're going to find those few before they continue to bomb whoever happens to be in their way. And we'll support him, we'll help him.
QUESTION: We were reminded by the anniversary of D-Day that, 60 years ago, it took a massive invasion to end the occupation of France and other European nations. Now in Iraq, the coalition has gladly and willingly returned sovereignty to the Iraqis.
And I wonder if there's any signs to think, to be more skeptical of NATO presence, any evidence that your critics are now swayed to the view that you all argued, that it was in fact a liberation? Or, at this point, does it matter (OFF-MIKE) what they say?
BUSH: Yes. It matters to me what you say -- I mean, yes, it matters to me what...
(LAUGHTER) Just a little humor.
Yes, it matters. It matters because it is important for nations that are blessed by freedom to come together to help nations that are struggling to be free, and that's why it matters.
The more people participating in the process, the better off it is. The more reconstruction there is, the more people willing to help with the education of children, the more people willing to help rebuild hospitals, the more people willing to help to rebuild this destroyed infrastructure, infrastructure destroyed by the Taliban or by Saddam Hussein, the better off the world will be.
And so, yes, the more people who say this is worthwhile, the more likely it is 50 million people are going to realize the blessings that we have. And the world will be better off for it.
And the examples of free societies in their neighborhoods are going to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
Listen, there are people inside of Iran who are watching what is happening -- young, vibrant, professional people who want to be free -- and they're wondering whether or not they'll have that opportunity.
And I think a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan are going to set such a vibrant, bright example for others. And so, yes, it matters.
And I think people are beginning are beginning to see that we were, in fact, liberators, and that we're not only going to liberate, we'll follow through, no matter how tough it gets on the ground.
BLAIR: I think, speaking as someone with a largely uncritical media...
... I think that, sure, I'm not sure that we will have persuaded all our critics, no. But I think that -- I think it's just worth emphasizing the degree to which our own strategy has evolved post- September the 11th.
Sometimes people talk about this issue to do with international terrorism today as if somehow it was because of what we have done in Afghanistan or Iraq that this terrorist threat exists.
This terrorist threat was building up there for a long time. September the 11th did and should have changed our thinking.
And the way our strategy has evolved is that, I think we know now that it is important not simply to go in and get after the Taliban in Afghanistan, but also to say, "No, we're going to do something else. We're also going to give that country democracy and freedom, because that is actually part of the battle against terrorism as well." And that's why it's important to see this as a whole picture. I mean, the fact is, if Iraq becomes a stable and democratic country -- and I'm not underestimating for a single instant the difficulties in doing that, incidentally -- but if it does, that is a huge blow to the propaganda and to the effort of the extremists.
That's, in fact, why sometimes I think they have a clearer idea of how important it is to stop us than sometimes the Western world has of why it's so important that we get there with Iraq and with the Iraqi people.
And so, you know, the Greater Middle East Initiative and the idea of spreading democracy there; resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the basis of two states, both democratic states, because what we want for the Palestinians is not just their own state, we want a democratic state for them, where they have proper freedoms as well.
So I think that you can see this as part of an evolving strategy where we realize we've got to be prepared to take tough security measures and tough action where necessary, but we know that that is not all that it's about. It's also about trying to show that there is a value system there that isn't related to any religion or one religion, one civilization.
It's about these basic values of humanity, that wherever they're implemented and tried, you get greater security.
Because basically, democracies, while they have to fight sometimes when they have to defend themselves, but they don't have the same aggressive intent that these unstable or extreme or fanatical regimes do.
So part of what we're trying to do -- and yes, it's tough at the moment, and of course you get into a situation where people will fight us very hard. That's in the nature of any of these struggles that you undertake. But our honest belief is that the world will be a safer place if we're able to make this work.
And I don't know whether we convinced people of this or not, but I do think the one thing that interests me is occasionally when people who opposed our action in Iraq will say, "The really important thing now is to get those democratic elections."
And I think that's fantastic, but let's be clear: We wouldn't be talking about democratic elections in Iraq if Saddam was still there.
QUESTION: A question for both of you: How do you counter the impression you've created today that you couldn't hand over the burden of Iraq quickly enough and the way that it was done is proof, a symbol if you like, of ashambles (ph)?
BLAIR: That's a little bit tough there.
QUESTION: Well, let me try it again. BUSH: Do you know that last Friday we handed over the final ministry to the Iraqi interim government? In other words, we have been making a transfer of sovereignty all along.
And actually, we've been contemplating this move for a while. But the final decision was by Prime Minister Allawi, and he thought it would strengthen his hand. And so, that's why the handover took place today as opposed to 48 hours later.
And so, not only is there full sovereignty in the hands of the government, all the ministries have been transferred, and they're up and running.
And it's -- you know, I supported the decision. I mean, I thought it was the smart thing to do, primarily because the prime minister was ready for it. And it's a sign of confidence.
You know, it's a sign that we're ready to go.
And it's a proud moment, it really is, for the Iraqi people.
And frankly, I feel comfortable in making the decision because I feel comfortable about Prime Minister Allawi and President al-Yawer. These are strong people. They're gutsy, they're courageous. They're, as we say in Texas, stand-up guys, you know. They'll lead. They'll lead their people to a better day.
And it's going to be very hard for them and very trying. But they just -- they and the Iraqi people need to hear loud and clear, they'll have our friendship and our support, no matter how tough it gets.
BLAIR: I think it's worth just pointing out as well, I agree obviously with what's just been said, but I think you've got somewhere in the region of 10 or 11 ministries that are already effectively run by the Iraqis themselves. I mean, their health and education ministries are already run by the Iraqis.
But it's a sign of their confidence and their desire to get on with it. They want to do it. They know that, in the end, they've got to do it. They want that responsibility.
And I think one of the exciting things about the last few weeks is that the Iraqi people, in a sense, through their prime minister and president, have indicated, "We want the responsibility."
Now, we then stay in support, however, and we're not walking out of this at all. We stay and support them. And we'll stay for as long as it takes to make sure that that support is there for them, so that we help them to that freedom and democracy they want to see.
And I think that, in a way, the relationship between us and the Iraqi government has been -- it's a healthy or better relationship now that there's this transfer of sovereignty there and where they really want the responsibility of running their own country, but they know the practical fact is, for the moment, until their own security forces are built up properly, they need our support. And they have our support.
BUSH: Thank you all very much.
NGUYEN: You have been listening to live audio from a news conference by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair at the NATO Summit in Turkey.
They've discussed a number of issues, primarily the handover of power in Iraq. But also the security concerns that are a big issue in that country.
Of course, there's a lot happening today, as you well know. There is also a decision from the Supreme Court concerning enemy combatants. That's a developing story. We'll get analysis on that in just a moment.
But first with all that's happening in Iraq on this is a historic day, we want to go to Baghdad and CNN's Jane Arraf with the latest there. Hi, Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Betty. It is, as you say, a historic day that started early this morning when now ex-Chief Civil Administrator L. Paul Bremer signed himself out of a job, signing that transfer of power that he later handed over to the new Iraqi interim government leaders. Handing authority, handing them over the country in a sense.
Now, President Ghazi al-Yawar prayed for guidance and clarity of vision. The new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, struck a somewhat harsher note saying that the enemies of peace here, those who are sewing terror, some of them were already burning in hell and others would follow. And he pledged to track down the insurgents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Those mercenaries that came to Iraq from different countries the country to attack the Iraqi people, we, God willing, and with the support of our people, we will be on the lookout for them. And we will chase them and bring them to justice to get their fair punishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARRAF: Allawi is expected to announce measures sometimes soon, clamping down on securities here as well as measures to help improve the economy.
As for Bremer, he left, left for home saying he was leaving Iraq confident in its future. Now most Iraqis happy about the handover, but not entirely confident it's going to get better soon -- Betty.
NGUYEN: All right, CNN's Jane Arraf in Baghdad this morning. Thank you. Now we want to get back to that Supreme Court decision dealing with enemy combatants, specifically the case of Yasser Hamdi. Let's go to CNN's Bob Franken in Washington with the latest on this ruling. Good morning, Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Betty. And what the court ruled in that one is that U.S. citizen Yasser Hamdi who was captured on the battlefield -- he had been raised, for the most part in Saudi Arabia and was captured on the battlefield on the side against the United States -- still had the rights to confront his charges in U.S. courts. The court ruled against the Reagan (sic) administration that he still has the right to habeas corpus, which as I said is the right to confront those charges.
As big a repudiation as that is that of the administration's position that it has the absolute power over enemy combatants, there is an even larger decision that involves the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Lower courts have ruled that they were outside the jurisdiction of the United States, that they had no legal rights.
The Supreme Court by a 6-3 decision has just ruled, and I'm quoting from the opinion, "held that the United States courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay." This is a big surprise.
FRANKEN (voice-over): Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. Naval Base, but it's on Cuban soil. The justices had a fundamental issue to decide.
FRANKEN: We've had a second ruling in the Guantanamo case. There are other detainees, there were actually cases that were combined here. And in that case, a consistent ruling that they do, by the same 6-3 margin, that they do have the rights to have their cases considered in U.S. courts.
A repudiation of the administration's argument that Guantanamo Bay is a part of sovereign Cuba, was outside the jurisdiction of the United States. It's a case, as I said, that is hugely significant.
And moving back, if I could, to the Yasser Hamdi case. It's one of three terrorism cases that the court has been considering. Hamdi and then also the case of Jose Padilla, which we've not had a ruling on yet. Padilla was arrested on U.S. soil.
But on the case of Yasser Hamdi, on the case of Yasser Hamdi, Hamdi was arrested on the battlefield. Nevertheless, the justices ruled that he has the right to confront his charges, the habeas corpus right.
As far as Guantanamo is concerned, that is a big surprise as I said.
FRANKEN (voice-over): Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. Naval Base, but it's on Cuban soil. The justices had a fundamental issue to decide. Did they have any authority over the military's control of foreign detainees held in a foreign country?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The core legal issue is one of jurisdiction in the federal courts.
FRANKEN: And not charges that the United States is mistreating more than 600 prisoners inside what critics say is a black hole called Camp Delta.
Most have been held indefinitely without charges or access to lawyers. The administration denies mistreatment. Detainees held there want a chance to be heard in a U.S. court, saying Guantanamo effectively is under U.S. control.
The justices heard arguments in two cases, brought by families of 16 Australian, British and Kuwaiti citizens being held in Guantanamo. Military officials have insisted for more than two years imprisoning them is important for interrogation purposes and safety.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The detainees include dangerous terrorists who committed brutal acts and have sworn to go back to do it again.
FRANKEN: And here's a key bit of wording from the opinion on Guantanamo Bay. "By the express terms of its agreements with Cuba, the United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over the Guantanamo Base and may continue to do so permanently if it chooses. Respondents," meaning the United States, "concede that the habeas statute would create federal court jurisdiction over the claims of an American citizen held in the base.
"Considering that there is no distinction between Americans and aliens," meaning those who are not U.S. citizens, "there is little reason to think," the opinion goes on, "that the Congress intended the statutes geographical coverage to vary depending on the detainees' citizenship.
"Aliens held at the base, like American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal court's authority." That is a ruling that is a strong repudiation of the administration's position that because Cuba was outside the United States, and where Guantanamo Bay was located, it was outside the court's jurisdiction.
Getting back to the Hamdi ruling, Yasser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen, captured as part of enemy forces in Afghanistan. Nevertheless has the right to confront his charges under U.S. civil court procedures.
It has been a day that has not been a day of good news for the administration and the conduct -- legal conduct of the war on terrorism -- Betty. NGUYEN: All right, CNN's Bob Franken outside the Supreme Court.
Again, we do have two rulings today. And to sort all of this out we want to turn to CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin who joins us now from New York with some insight on this.
Let's start with the Hamdi case first. Now, the court has ruled that he can challenge his treatment. But what does it say about the president's power to keep an American citizen detained without charges and without trial?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Betty, I'm still trying to get my own bearings here and figure out exactly what was said.
But as far as I can tell, what was said in the Hamdi ruling was, yes, it is OK for the government to seize and hold him without charges. At least for some period of time. But he does have the right to a lawyer and he does have the right to go to federal court and say, hey, you've got the wrong guy. Or I didn't do what you say I did.
So they are definitely in both of these cases saying that the administration cannot hold people without lawyers, without charges indefinitely.
NGUYEN: But it's kind of conflicting because if you can hold them without charges for at least a little while, how do they know when they can go before the court and express their concerns and fight it?
TOOBIN: Well, that is one of the many things that I think we're going to be trying to figure out.
What appears to be going on here is some sort of compromise because obviously this is a court that feels very strongly about national security, about the president's ability to conduct foreign affairs, to conduct military affairs. Yet it also is responsible for the rule of law.
So here you have individuals that the government says are very dangerous, and so dangerous we're not even going to admit them to our legal system. That is too far, apparently, for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is saying if they are as dangerous as you say they are, show a federal court.
Just an important obvious point to emphasize, but it is worth talking about, is that even though the Guantanamo inmates have won their case and Hamdi at least at some level have won their case -- won his case, nobody's getting released anytime soon. There will be -- all that these decisions mean is that these, Hamdi and the Guantanamo inmates have the right to challenge their incarceration.
But no one has said anything today suggesting that these inmates are going to be released anytime soon -- or ever.
NGUYEN: Does it give any implication as to when they can begin that challenge?
TOOBIN: Well that I would expect would be pretty close to immediately. I imagine their lawyers will go into court tomorrow saying we want a hearing, we approved that we shall not be held in court. Anybody who knows anything about the legal system knows that nothing happens tomorrow. Or almost nothing happens tomorrow.
So the process will begin to grind forward in the next few months. But I expect that the lawyers here will take advantage of their victory and go to court and say, hey, we want to get out.
NGUYEN: In the Gitmo case, the 6-3 decision, do you think that was made because the Supreme Court said even though this is not on American soil, Americans are controlling the situation there, and therefore, they are allowed to American law?
TOOBIN: Yes, the American government was in a very difficult legal position there. I've been to Guantanamo Bay. I've been to that base.
What the government was arguing was, this was foreign territory. This was essentially like a battlefield. So the federal courts have no right to have any control over what goes on there.
If you go to Guantanamo Bay, if you see how those prisoners are being held, that is about the most secure, the most unassailable prison in the world, much less in the United States. So the government arguing they are somehow in jeopardy there, that the government doesn't have control over the prisoners, that's something that the Supreme Court simply rejected.
And if you've been to Guantanamo Bay you can see why because it is under absolute and total American control.
NGUYEN: CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin from New York. Thank you for your insight.
TOOBIN: OK, Betty.
NGUYEN: The Iraqi handover is the major topic of NATO leaders in Istanbul, Turkey today. Senior White House correspondent John King is covering their summit and he joins us with has the latest. Good morning.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Betty. President Bush and his chief ally in the war in Iraq, Prime Minister Blair, calling this a historic day, they say now, as the transfer of sovereignty has taken place in Iraq.
They also say that the international community is ready to set aside all the past differences over the going to war. Prime Minister Blair and President Bush saying at a news conference just a short time ago that, yes, there are still some disagreement over going to war in the first place, but that, in their view, everyone here at the NATO summit was focused not on the past but on the future and in helping Iraq with more security. Significantly, both the president and the prime minister hailing NATO's decision to offer security training assistance to Iraq. No new troops. Germany will not send troops, France will not send troops. But all of the NATO countries have agreed now to help Iraq with security training. For police forces and military forces.
Now, all this playing out this morning as the dramatic transfer of sovereignty was taking place in Baghdad. President Bush was in the morning meeting of the NATO leaders. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tapped the president. Mr. Bush exchanged a few glances with aides, looked down at his watch at the moment sovereignty was being transferred and then exchanged hand shakes with Mr. Blair across the table.
So both leaders in a very upbeat mood. Of course they have been criticized, including by many of their friends and traditional allies, for this decision.
Mr. Bush now saying, and I believe our viewers heard much of this at the top of the hour, that Iraqis now have their country back. He said that country for decades was an enemy of the United States and the international community. He says it is now an ally of both.
But Prime Minister Blair alluding to the fact that Iraq may still have a new government, may now have a new government, but coalition troops still on the ground there. He says there will still be difficult and dangerous days ahead -- Betty.
NGUYEN: John, NATO agreed to help train Iraqi troops. But they didn't say where, if that was going to happen in Iraq or elsewhere. Why didn't they provide specifics?
KING: Because much of that still's being worked out. And there is great political sensitivity to it. Germany, for example, has said it will help with training but that will not send any of its troops into Iraq. So the Germans will train some forces, we are told, at German bases. There's a possibility there could be training in other areas like neutral sites, like Jordan. NATO troops could go to train Iraqi security forces.
The White House expects that some of the training will take place inside Iraq. But this is politically sensitive in many of the countries involved. So while the commitment was made today by the NATO leaders, the details still need to be worked out -- Betty.
NGUYEN: CNN's senior White House correspondent John King, thank you very much.
There is a lot going on today, obviously. We will have continuing coverage on all of these world events. So stay tuned to CNN LIVE TODAY.
NGUYEN: Welcome back. The Supreme Court has reached another decision involving enemy combatants. This one dealing with Jose Padilla. We want to go now to CNN's Bob Franken standing by outside the Supreme Court -- Bob.
FRANKEN: This almost amounts to a non-decision, Betty. This was the case that was considered the most significant, the case of Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber," a U.S. citizen who was arrested on U.S. soil at O'Hare Airport a couple of years ago.
The court has ruled against Padilla, but not for any constitutional reason. The ruling has to do with the fact that it was filed in the wrong court. The lower court that had heard this case was the New York Circuit Court of Appeals. He is being held at the naval base in Charlotte, North Carolina.
And the ruling says, "The plain language of the habeas statute thus confirms the general rule that core habeas petitions, challenging present physical confinement, jurisdictionalized in the district of confinement, that is to say, the South Carolina federal court." So it's going to have to be remanded, to use the legal term, back to the courts.
That noise, by the way, is one of the tourists buses that have a tendency to stop just as we're reporting news.
In any case, the case of Jose Padilla, the most significant, most believe, of the cases, it was the least significant constitutional ruling.
Now, moving on to the case of Yasser Hamdi. The court has ruled that he does have the right to a habeas corpus decision. Hamdi -- by the way, habeas corpus meaning to confront your charges. Hamdi is an American citizen. A U.S. citizen. But he was captured on the battlefield unlike Padilla who had been captured at O'Hare Airport.
In her ruling, Justice O'Conner wrote, "As critical as the government's interest may be in detaining those who actually pose an immediate threat to the national security, history of the United States during ongoing international conflict, history and common sense teach us that an unchecked system of detention carries the potential to become a means for oppression and Abuse of others who do not present that sort of threat."
So that is a quite significant ruling limiting the president's power or really requiring that the courts under circumstances like this have the ability to allow a person to be heard by a neutral party.
Now, we get to Guantanamo. Lower courts have ruled that Guantanamo Bay as part of Cuba was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. That the U.S. courts had no authority over their treatment of the detainees here. That was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, I'm reading from the syllabus that comes with it. "By the expressed terms of its agreements with Cuba, the United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over Guantanamo Bay, and may continue to do so permanently if it chooses. Therefore, in effect, this is an extension of the United States. The courts do have power." Now, sorting all of this out is going to be extremely difficult, particularly in the case of Guantanamo where there are so many detainees. But those are the rulings in the three cases that people have been watching very, very closely. In the Hamdi case, that he does have the right to confront his charges in a civilian manner. In the Guantanamo case, that they do have access to the U.S. courts. And in the case of Padilla, it the case will have to be refiled -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Bob, we are going to put you to the test to try to sort all of this out for us. Let's talk about the Hamdi case first. Now he can confront his charges. But unlike that in the Padilla case, he cannot -- the Supreme Court ruled against that.
Now, what does that mean? Because Padilla is an American citizen who was arrested on American soil. What does that mean for American citizens suspected of posing a terrorist threat?
FRANKEN: At some point, according to this reading from the court, they do have a right. The justices did not dispute the fact that American citizens can be arrested as enemy combatants, to use the term that a president can designate.
But it's not open-ended. At some point they do have a right to their U.S. civil rights, specifically the civil right to confront the habeas corpus. That is to say to confront their charges and implicitly, the right to an attorney.
In the case of Padilla, that was very narrow. All that was ruled here is that it was filed in the wrong court. Although he was held for a while in New York, he is now being held without much access to anybody but the military in the brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The court has ruled that as a result, that case has to be refiled in the federal courts in South Carolina.
In the case of Guantanamo, that one is now saying that because of the fact that Guantanamo Bay is in reality controlled by the United States through leases in perpetuity, the base does effectively become an extension of the United States, and the detainees' treatment there is subject to U.S. court review.
That is a surprising ruling, considering the fact that it had been roundly rejected by lower courts -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Bob, it's going to take a lot of time for all of this to sink in. CNN's Bob Franken outside the Supreme Court. Thank you.
Thanks for joining CNN LIVE TODAY. We have much more to come. So don't go away.
NGUYEN: Well how will the U.S. military role change with the interim Iraqi government now in place? CNN's Kathleen Koch is covering the Pentagon this morning and she joins us with the latest. Good morning, Kathleen. KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Betty. Perhaps the greatest change right off the bat will be that the U.S.-led coalition will no longer have a say in Iraqi domestic affairs. Its responsibilities will be purely military.
Basically what you'll begin to see is sort of lower key operations, military operations in Iraq. More coordination with Iraqi authorities. You'll be seeing U.S. military increasingly going on patrols with members of the Iraqi military.
There will be a greater focus on training and equipping the Iraqi military despite the fact that NATO today has made that very important commitment to help train Iraqi forces because right now it remains unclear just how large that training mission will be, and just when and where it will take place.
So the U.S. not wanting to waste any time and wants to continue forging onward with getting those soldiers prepared.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as a matter of fact, on a visit to Turkey today, reiterated the U.S. desire to get the roughly 215,000 members of Iraqis' fledgling military up to speed and ready to provide security for their own country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: We don't want to be an occupying power. In the last analysis, governance and essential services and progress economically go hand in hand with successful security. The Iraqi people are going to have to provide for the security of that country, and they're well on the way to doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: However, under the recently passed United Nations resolution, the military coalition still has authority to conduct military operations, and particularly defensive operations as it sees fit in order to provide order and security in Iraq.
Now, when it comes to the insurgency, the new Iraqi government is promising to give amnesty to any fighters who turn themselves in who don't have blood on their hands, and who are willing to provide information on more hardcore fighters.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) while there interestingly, the new prime minister this morning promised that those who did come forward would be treated fairly. In an interview with "Newsweek" magazine they promised, the new defense minister promised they would, quote, "cut off their hands and behead them, those who did not turn themselves in and continued to fight" -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Security is obviously a huge issue. But for those Iraqi forces, specifically, what is their biggest security concern? Is it the lack of equipment? Is it the training? Or is it the insurgents?
KOCH: Well the Iraqi government, the new incoming government has said that their focus will be on crushing this insurgency, that they see that as their greatest responsibility.
But in testimony on Capitol Hill last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other top Pentagon officials did talk about the fact that the training is not going as quickly as they would like to. They don't quite have all the resources that they need. So that's also another issue that the fledgling Iraqi military is contending with.
NGUYEN: CNN's Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon, thank you.
A Utah family confirms their relative is the U.S. Marine being held hostage in Iraq. The Marine is identified as Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun. He is of Lebanese descent. The Pentagon says he's been missing from his 1st Marine Expeditionary unit for nearly a week now.
In a video broadcast on Al-Jazeera Television, the captors vowed to behead Hassoun unless the coalition releases all Iraqi prisoners. A spokesman for the Marine's family issued this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAREK NOSSEIR, FAMILY SPOKESMAN: In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate, we accept destiny with its good and the bad.
We pray and we plead for his safe release. And we ask all people of the world to join us in our prayers. May God bless us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Kidnappings and death threats increased as the transfer of power neared in Iraq. Former Iraq hostage and American contractor Thomas Hamill has a firm opinion about recent kidnappings. Hamill told a church congregation in Texas that he is glad the U.S. does not negotiate with the terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS HAMILL, FRM. HOSTAGE: These people over there that are beheading and that are taking these hostages, and are -- what they are is just bullies. They're trying bully their way in. They're trying to get all of our coalition forces to pull out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Hamill, who is from Mississippi, was kidnapped in April and held for about three weeks before he escaped.
Well you can follow all of these developments in the new Iraq from our Web site, and check out a special report, "The Struggle for Iraq." Our address is cnn.com.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage right here on CNN LIVE TODAY.
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