Cheney Says Obama May Keep Gitmo Open

Vice President Dick Cheney said that the Obama administration will see the benefits of keeping open the terror detainee prison on Guantanamo Bay.

Cheney, during an interview with Rush Limbaugh on Monday, said that the prison has been "very, very valuable."

"And I think they'll discover that trying to close it is a very hard proposition," he added.

Cheney agreed with the suggestion by Limbaugh that President-elect Obama could go back on his pledge to shut down the prison once he enters office.

"Is that an example of things that you've put in place to help defend the country, and they're going to be appreciative of once they get there and see it?" Limbaugh asked Cheney.

"I think so," the vice president replied. "I think Guantanamo has been very well run. I think if you look at it from the perspective of the requirements we had, once you go out and capture a bunch of terrorists, as we did in Afghanistan and elsewhere, then you've got to have some place to put them. If you bring them here to the U.S. and put them in our local court system, then they are entitled to all kinds of rights that we extend only to American citizens."

Cheney added that the prisoners there are unlawful combatants and aren't afforded the same rights as U.S. citizens.

"If you're not going to have a place to locate them like Guantanamo, then you either have to bring them here to the continental United States -- and I don't know any member of Congress who's volunteering to have al Qaeda terrorists deposited in his district," he said.

The other option would be turn the prisoners over to a foreign government, Cheney said. "And we found lots of times when you do that that a number of them have gone back... on to the battlefield and tried to kill Americans again."

Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Democrats in Congress have called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. They've been highly critical of the Bush administration's interrogation tactics on detainees there, noting that they violate the Geneva Conventions and that some of them amount to torture. The prison's critics have also called for detainees to have the chance to challenge their legal status outside of the military commissions set up by the Bush administration.

Cheney said in the same interview that Obama will appreciate the executive power that the Bush administration worked to expand.

The vice president also said that the most significant accomplishment of the Bush administration has been its ability to block terror attacks on the U.S. homeland.

"That doesn't mean there won't be some in the future, but I think the extent to which we've kept the country safe and secure now for the last seven-and-a-half years has been probably the achievement that I'm proudest of," he said. "I think it required some very tough decisions by the President, and some remarkable work by some very capable military and intelligence folks that worked with us."