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CNN Live Today

Terror Suspects Ruling by Supreme Court; Troubled Waters Across Northeast

Aired June 29, 2006 - 11:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Daryn Kagan. Welcome to our viewers across the United States and all around the world that are watching us here on CNN International.
This hour, the Supreme Court hands the Bush White House a major defeat on how to handle enemy combatants. Our legal experts will explain what that means as the story goes forward.

Some flooded rivers in the East are going down, but others still on the way up. We'll have the very latest from the stricken region.

And we're expecting President Bush and the Japanese prime minister to hold a joint news conference in about 30 minutes. You will see that live here on CNN.

First, though, to our breaking news story out of the U.S. Supreme Court, and that is the decision the high court has handed down with a 5-3 decision about what the Bush administration can and can't do with the people being held, the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Our Bob Franken was inside the Supreme Court as that decision was handed down. He has made his way outside. We can see his shining face on the camera.

Bob, give us the highlights of this decision.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's appropriate the president is holding a news conference within the half-hour, because this is really in his court now. In the Supreme Court, the ruling went very much against the administration.

In effect, by a 5-3 ruling -- it was very fractured, with a lot of dissents and concurrences -- but, in effect, 5-3, the justices ruled that the military commissions, oftentimes incorrectly called the tribunals, that are being held at Guantanamo Bay against 10 defendants thus far are not properly constituted. They cannot go forward.

It was an interesting ruling because it's really quite provocative. This is a ruling that pitted the Supreme Court, the judicial branch of government, up against the executive branch of government and the legislative branch.

As far as the executive branch is concerned, the president and this administration have always claimed that the Geneva Convention, which protects prisoners of war, did not apply in this particular case and never has with the enemy combatants who are being held. But the commissions, Justice John Paul Stevens ruled, are not valid because they do not recognize the trial -- excuse me -- the protections that have been recognized by customary international law.

He went on to say that that law is contained in the Geneva Conventions. And it's a very interesting footnote to show how scathing a repudiation this is of the administration.

He pointed out that oftentimes the rules of these commissions are changed "at the whim of the executive." Of course, that would mean the president.

It's also a rejection of an act passed by Congress. Congress had tried to make these hearings unnecessary, but the Supreme Court said they do have jurisdiction here.

There were some dissents. Some of the justices, like Scalia and Thomas, saying that this really sabotages the balance of powers, but those who prevailed said the very balance of power that is written in the Constitution necessitates a stop until the administration can make sure that these are more properly written.

So this is an extremely important ruling. Again, we'll have to see what the president has to say -- Daryn.

KAGAN: We will be listening in.

Bob Franken, just outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bob, thank you.

Let's go to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, to help us understand this decision a little bit better.

First of all, as we have people watching from all around the world, nine justices on the Supreme Court. The chief justice, John Roberts, did not participate in this decision because as a federal appeals court he had already ruled in this case. So he recused himself -- 5-3, the court saying not what you can do, but basically what you can't do. It's like a process of elimination of what can be done with the detainees.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly, Daryn. The Supreme Court doesn't pick and choose what they want to decide. They only decide what the issues are that are before them.

And the issue that was before them was, lawyers for Mr. Hamdan, who was one of the people being held in Guantanamo, saying, look, U.S. government, the procedures you have set up to determine my fate don't protect my rights under the U.S. Constitution and under international law, the Geneva Convention, which the United States has signed. The Supreme Court said, Mr. Hamdan, you're right, these procedures are inadequate.

So the question now is, what does the government do about these 400 people in Guantanamo? KAGAN: OK. Now, another interesting point here. This case does -- does focus on this one particular man, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who, 36 years old, he spent four years at Guantanamo Bay so far, identified as a former bodyguard and personal driver for Osama bin Laden.

He is facing a single count of conspiracy. But also in this decision today, the Supreme Court saying, well, you can't do that, because in international law there is no conspiracy count.

What does that mean in this particular case?

TOOBIN: Well, that means that the United States government is going to have to come up with another charge against him. Of course, I expect his lawyers will go into federal district court, a trial court probably in Washington, and say, no, he has to be released right away because the one count against him has been thrown out. I expect that the government, given how seriously they have taken this case, will simply revise their charge in some way that is more consistent with what the Supreme Court says is an acceptable -- an acceptable charge.

The bigger problem the government has, though, is putting in place a new procedure that will somehow pass muster at the Supreme Court. Remember now, the Supreme Court has twice rejected the Supreme -- the administration's attempts to deal with the prisoners in the war on terror.

In 2004, the government said, look, Supreme Court, you have nothing do with this. You have no jurisdiction over these prisoners at all. The Supreme Court said, we sure do.

OK. The government said, we're going to now put in procedures to try and comply with what you said. Now the Supreme Court has said not good enough, back to the drawing board. So, you know, they're now continuing.

KAGAN: Let me just jump in here, because I want to go back to a point you were just making about what happens to this particular man, Hamdan. His legal team actually right now is giving a news conference. Let's go ahead and listen in to what they have to say.

LT. COMMANDER CHARLES SWIFT, HAMDAN'S MILITARY ATTORNEY: ... indicating, as all of us would have, to defer to this court's ruling on how to proceed. It's clear how to proceed, exactly as we have been asking from the beginning, in a regular court. Be that a federal court, a charge of conspiracy, or if there is a war crime in a court- martial.

We have never contested that (INAUDIBLE) be tried there. All we have wanted is a fair trial, and we thank the Supreme Court for ensuring that Mr. Hamdan will get one.

Any questions?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) be declared prisoners under the alternate scenario? SWIFT: I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: The detainees, which are somehow on the edge of the Geneva Convention, would they need to be declared prisoners to come to the U.S. court?

SWIFT: No. It's quite clear under -- under both the law of war or under our civil law that if you committed offenses outside the laws of war, that you can be tried in a federal court. That's never been contested from the beginning here.

What you call somebody matters much less, as the court said today, than what actually you are doing. Bring the -- a lawful procedure is a lawful procedure, no matter what you call it.

QUESTION: What happens your client now? What do you expect will happen?

SWIFT: I expect that we'll follow the president's mandate, that we will go and get a fair trial. All that we have been seeking from the beginning is that trial. The court's laid open to options, a military court-martial, or a federal court case, either of which we're ready to defend against.

QUESTION: Sir, is this a rebuke to the entire process at Guantanamo Bay (INAUDIBLE) that this process be shut down?

SWIFT: The rebuke, as far as Guantanamo Bay, it's beyond my scope. As far as the process, yes, it is a rebuke for the process. It's a return to our fundamental values.

And that return marks a high water point in American history. It means that we can't be scared out of who we are. And that's victory, folks.

KAGAN: We have been listening in. This is the legal team speaking for Salim Ahmed Hamdan. This is the man that was at the central part of this case that the Supreme Court ruled on earlier today that said that the war crime tribunal plan does not work with international law and the Geneva Convention, and saying to the Bush administration and the Justice Department, you've got to go back and come up with another plan.

A quick question to our Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, what this lawyer was asking for, if you could explain those options, a regular court or a court-martial, how would those work differently than what the Bush administration was proposing with this previous plan?

TOOBIN: Well, the Bush administration created this new procedure, a sort of -- a semi-trial, something like a trial for the people in Gitmo, where the -- at Guantanamo Bay, the prison there -- would have some of the protections of the American legal system but not all of them. What Charlie Swift, the lawyer was saying, was, no, go back to what the American judicial system has already established, which is they're criminal cases. Have a grand jury impaneled, charge Hamdan with a crime, and give him a trial.

That's one possibility.

Another possibility is have the military justice system work. Give him a court-martial where he'll be evaluated by a jury of officers in the military. That's a system that's been in place for hundreds of years in the United States. Use that. Don't -- don't use this kind of hybrid tribunal system anymore.

Another possibility that is -- that he didn't mention but is a real one, and is certainly one that has been used before with the prisoners at Guantanamo, is simply to ship them home. Send them back to the countries they came from.

That carries risks. They may get back into terrorism. That's something we don't want them to do.

Another possibility is they be tortured by the governments. And we don't want that either.

So, these are among the options the government -- the U.S. government has got to -- has got to consider. But the one thing we know today is the current structure for trying the inmates in Guantanamo is not acceptable. So something new has got to happen.

KAGAN: All right. And maybe we'll hear some of those new ideas when the president gives his news conference at the bottom of the hour.

Quickly, to outside the U.S. Supreme Court, where our Bob Franken is standing by -- Bob.

FRANKEN: (INAUDIBLE) with Jeff some of the objections that the justices and the lawyers for Hamdan had had to the military tribunal process, which is actually not a tribunal, they are called commissions.

Point number one, the -- those who were accused were not able to face their accusers.

Number two, they were not able to have access to the evidence because of problems with security, according to provisions of the military tribunals, these commissions.

Thirdly, the appeals process relied on people who were in the same chain of command. The argument was that they had a vested interest in an outcome so they would not get a fair chance at appeal.

Whether the Uniform Code of Military Justice is followed, the court-martial process, or the civilian court process, both of -- all of those provisions would not be allowed in a trial. In addition to which, Commander Swift and other members of the military defense team, as well as civilian lawyers, have complained for some time that they have not had proper access to their clients, that their clients have not received proper treatment, that they are under such privacy and security promises that they are not able oftentimes to publicly describe the treatment that their clients are getting.

All of these are issues that the military commissions would have to address before they could once again see if they could pass muster by the court system.

I have to emphasize that the ruling, the justices went out of their way to say they're making no comment on the right to hold these detainees as long as need to be held. No comment on what should happen at Guantanamo. Only that the commission process does not past muster, in particular because it doesn't follow international law, meaning the Geneva Conventions.

That is hugely significant because the administration has always claimed that the Geneva Conventions don't apply here.

KAGAN: All right. Bob Franken, outside the Supreme Court.

Thank you for that.

Other news coming out of Washington, D.C. Remember the laptop that was stolen last month that contained the information, the personal information of more than 26 million U.S. military veterans and personnel? Well, that laptop has now been turned in. We got that word earlier today in the last hour from the head of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson.

Here's what he had to say about that find.


JIM NICHOLSON, VA SECRETARY: The subject's hard drive and laptop computer that was stolen from a VA's employee's home has been recovered. It's confirmed that that has been recovered.

The investigation continues to see whether or not this information has been compromised in any way or copied. There is reason, however, to be optimistic.


KAGAN: And, in fact, since the Veterans Affairs secretary gave that -- gave that sound bite, we have come to learn that the FBI does not believe that the data had been copied. And also, that the laptop was turned in to the FBI in the city of Baltimore.

We expect to learn more in about an hour and 45 minutes, when Secretary Nicholson plans to hold a news conference.

Meanwhile, let's get back to the flooding story in the Northeast. Our Allan Chernoff is covering that -- Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Daryn. We will have details about the floodwaters here in Binghamton, New York, in just a moment when CNN LIVE TODAY continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAGAN: Back to our developing story out of the U.S. Supreme Court and this decision on military war crime tribunals.

Our Bob Franken is standing by with a guest -- Bob.

FRANKEN: We're standing -- the guest is Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift. He is the man who prevailed as the military lawyer who represented Ahmed Salim Hamdan.

And for the longest time you must have felt like a voice in the wilderness, a military lawyer without much cooperation, representing a client and not being able to fully represent him.

SWIFT: It has been a long road to here. But on the first day that I met Mr. Hamdan, he told me there is no law in Guantanamo Bay. That's what the guards say.

I told him I didn't believe that, and that together we would come here and we would show the world that the law is everywhere. And that's what happened today.

FRANKEN: And here is the intriguing -- the intriguing fact, that you, as a member of the military, in the chain of command, have participated as the lead attorney in a process that repudiates, in effect, the policies of your commander in chief.

SWIFT: I think it's the strongest part -- it represents how strong our military is in our system of government. It's not unprecedented.

Military attorneys did this during World War II. They have done it in the past during the Civil War, made decisions, because we are officers, just like the president, who are sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

It makes us unique. It makes us stronger. And it means that we will ultimately win every struggle.

FRANKEN: This ruling, the justices went out of their way to say it does not mean that Guantanamo Bay must be shut down, nor does it mean they cannot continue to hold people, including your client.

So, what do you do next?

SWIFT: Well, the president, I think, has laid out the path in speeches right before this decision saying that he's committed. And we're heartened to hear that on behalf of my client and myself, to holding fair trials.

He was looking for the Supreme Court to give him guidance. Well, they have done that here today, and we're ready to defend him. I've always been ready to defend him in a fair trial.

FRANKEN: Well, there are two avenues. You can go down the military avenue through the Universal Code of Military Justice -- that is to say, a court-martial -- or through the civilian system. Do you have a preference?

SWIFT: I don't have a preference. What the court is holding, at least by the plurality, if they want to pursue the conspiracy charge that's against him, that means we go to the federal courts right now. And the federal courts have been doing a good job.

They've acquitted a few people and convicted the majority of conspiracy to commit terrorism since 9/11. So that's certainly open.

If they want to recharge in an actual war crime -- and he has not been, as Justice Stevens pointed out today, he's not actually -- none of the acts that were alleged against him are war crimes in and of themselves. But if there's other evidence, and they want to charge him with a war crime, then I'm ready to defend him in a court-martial.

FRANKEN: What's going to happen next is the administration is going to be, in effect, in a holding pattern. And the Supreme Court has given them a chance to do that. And then we will find out what action occurs next. That action will probably be taken by Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift -- Daryn.

KAGAN: All right, Bob. Thank you.

And actually, very next, within the next 10 minutes, we do expect to hear from the president. He will be holding a news conference, along with the prime minister of Japan. You'll see that live right here on CNN.

Right now we move on to the weather story in the Northeast. There is some relief this hour in some parts of the flooded Northeast. The water is receding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and a mandatory evacuation order for up to 250,000 people has been lifted. But the danger is not over.

The Delaware River is expected to reach record levels this afternoon. People in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are keeping a close eye on the river.

The flooding has already taken a devastating toll on the region, and as many as 13 deaths are blamed on the flooding. About a thousand people had to be rescued in Pennsylvania alone.

One hundred million dollars, that is the estimate for flood damage in New York from the state's governor. We are seeing dramatic images of some of that damage this hour.

That was a restaurant which washed away. The two-story building collapsed into a creek.

Allan Chernoff has been surveying the damage and joins us now from Binghamton, New York -- Allan.

CHERNOFF: Good morning, Daryn.

Yes, lots of damage, but the recovery effort here in Binghamton, New York, is well under way. In fact, just minutes ago, firefighters actually took boats to that brick building behind me. That's a pumping station.

The station had been turned off, and they've just made an effort to get it going once again. It pumps sewage through the pipes of this city, and the fire chief told me it's critical to get it going again to prevent severe flooding in the northwest quadrant of Binghamton, New York, and, of course, to keep the sewage moving as well. So that's very important, and it appears that they have achieved their effort over there.

Now, in terms of the damage, you can see right behind me, first of all, this garage, partially collapsed. And the owner of that garage, Anton Lucas (ph), he's a contractor. He told us he actually keeps lots of his lumber in there, and it's all ruined now. And, of course, the garage doesn't look too good, if it even does survive this flood.

Over here, you can see a house just absolutely devastated. Yesterday, the floodwaters were well up the first floor of this home. Really halfway up those windows that you see right there.

The owner told me that she and her husband moved all the furniture, except their couch, up to the second floor. So they're hoping that they can salvage everything. They do have some flood insurance, but only insurance that would protect them if the house literally were to be lifted off its foundation. So she is not expecting any help from flood insurance.

Other people I've spoken with here, they don't have flood insurance at all. It's very, very expensive, as you know. And it often does not cover all the damage.

But the good news is that the water certainly is receding, and doing so rapidly. In fact, yesterday evening the water where I'm standing was actually up to here. I could not have been standing. I would have had to basically be treading water.

So right now we are seeing a big improvement. The water flowing out. And hopefully that will continue all day long -- Daryn.

KAGAN: By the way, Allan, good idea to be in that water with all the debris and everything else that might be floating around in there?

CHERNOFF: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to go swimming in here. But I can tell you, I'm wearing rubber boots, so that's pretty much protecting -- protecting my legs here.

KAGAN: All right.

CHERNOFF: But certainly not a healthful environment.

KAGAN: You know, we just look out for you back here at home base.

CHERNOFF: Thank you. KAGAN: Thank you, Allan.

Well, as we continue our flooding coverage, the water is receding in other places as well. So the damage is being revealed. And residents in the Northeast are coping with flooded homes and basements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the water comes and undermines from the foundations -- 10:00 yesterday morning I already had water coming into my basement. So, I have to keep the pumps running or we will lose everything on the first floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last month, we had in April -- we had five feet in our basement. Right now there's only about four inches. So if we can keep it from five feet again, you know, we won't lose all that stuff like we did last time.


KAGAN: Our Mary Snow is along the banks of the Susquehanna River in Plains, Pennsylvania. That's very close to the town of Wilkes- Barre -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, you know, in just under an hour now, residents are going to be allowed to go back into their homes. This is the road home. And it really is just a fraction of the flooding that we saw yesterday.

We're going to just pan over to a stop sign across the road. That was pretty much under water yesterday. So you can see that the water has been receding fairly quickly, and it's brought a lot of relief to the residents here.

Now, the cleanup begins, and we just talked to one resident who said it's going to take about three weeks to clear out all the mud. One of the residents, Robin Williams, joining us now.

Robin, you lived here for two years. You said this is the third flood you've encountered. But this was different, wasn't it?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, RESIDENT: It was different. It came in quick and went out quick.

SNOW: You rent, so you don't have insurance, correct?


SNOW: How badly was your home damaged?

WILLIAMS: We had basement flooding, and the hot water tank tipped over. So we have to fix some water lines.

SNOW: And this is all on your dime, right?


SNOW: Any thoughts about moving your location now?

WILLIAMS: I did, but now I'm changing my mind again.

SNOW: Why live here when it gets flooded so often?

WILLIAMS: The community that I live in. They're really wonderful.

SNOW: OK. And now you have to contend with power, some communities here without drinking water.

How long will it take to you clear out?

WILLIAMS: I figure probably three -- three, maybe four days.


WILLIAMS: And we should be good.

SNOW: Good luck to you. And thanks for coming over to talk to us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SNOW: And Daryn, that is pretty much the situation here in Plains, where families are going in to assess the damage. Some residents saying it's going to take them more than a few days. Some have insurance, but as you just heard Robin Williams say, this is really coming out of her own pocket.

KAGAN: Yes. And the same name as the comedian, but nothing funny to laugh at today for her.

Thank you, Mary.

Big news on Wall Street as well. Markets going kind of nuts today as we check out what's happening at the New York Stock Exchange.


We are minutes away from President Bush's news conference getting started we believe in about five minutes, along with the prime minister of Japan. You will see that live here on CNN.

Right now, a quick break.


KAGAN: Welcome back.

We are standing by. We expect any minute for a news conference to begin at the White House with President Bush and the prime minister of Japan. This on the day when a big ruling comes out of the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the military war crimes tribunal. This is what the Bush administration -- the process they wanted to use to deal with detainees and Guantanamo Bay. Basically, the Supreme Court saying today you can't do it that way. It does not fit with the Geneva Convention. You have go back to the drawing board and start again.

So we do expect to hear from President Bush on that topic when the news conference begins, or at least as one of the questions.

Meanwhile, let's hear what Senator John Warner had to say. He is the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Let's listen in.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I'm sure we will look at other means to provide them justice under our laws and international law. We might look to the federal system and other means by which to provide that. But there also could be an acceleration of efforts to return them to their native countries, to the extent those countries will accept them.


KAGAN: And with more reaction from Capitol Hill, let's go to Capitol Hill and our Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, as you heard from Senator Warner there, right now lawmakers are really trying to take stock of exactly what the Supreme Court ruling means for the future of the Guantanamo detainees. It was Congress that actually gave President Bush the authority, the original authority after 9/11, to have that wide interpretation as to how detainees, enemy combatants might be handled bringing them before those military tribunals.

At the moment what you have is the initial reaction from Senator Warner, saying that this is going to be a priority issue for the Senate. It will be brought up before his committee, Armed Services, before Senate Foreign Relations as they try to figure out which direction they need to go in. As you know, this Congress has been very good about giving President Bush a wide latitude in dealing with detainees.

KAGAN: All right. Another topic on Capitol Hill today. Let's move over to the House side. They are focused on "The New York Times," and leaks and journalists. What are they doing about that?

KOPPEL: Daryn, today the House of Representative is going to be taking up on the floor a House Republican resolution which both condemns those who leak those stories within the Bush administration, leaked them to the news media, and also admonishes news organizations not to publish these stories, Daryn. That's supposed to happen sometime later this afternoon.

Democrats, of course, raising the issue with a lot of other points that are also in the Republican resolution -- Daryn.

KAGAN: All right. Andrea, thank you. Let's head over to the White House. We're within the two-minute window for this news conference to begin.

Quickly now to our Elaine Quijano -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Daryn.

President Bush is hosting his good friend Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi. Just under two minutes from now, this news conference is set to begin.

Clearly the spotlight is on the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today, a setback for the Bush administration in its assertions of executive authority in conducting the war on terror.

Now President Bush has certainly been under intense international pressure to close that facility. In fact, at the European Union leaders summit last week in Vienna, the president said that he would like to see the facility closed eventually. He said the U.S. is working to repatriate some detainees, but said others should be tried in military courts. And we understand that president and the prime minister are making their way over.

Certainly this decision, although it does not deal with the issue on whether Guantanamo will remain open, it will add to the debate. Next week the issue will likely come up again when the president visits Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel before the G8.

Despite their close personal rapport, she has not shied away from raising this issue with President Bush. It is expected that he will be asked for his reaction today -- Daryn.

Yes, and even if he doesn't address it straight on, we would expect that one of the questions would be -- what's going to be -- in the couple of seconds we have here, what's going to be the format for this news conference, Elaine?

QUIJANO: Well, certainly we expect the leaders to make statements, as is customary, and then we're unclear whether or not they will take more than the customary two and two, two questions from each side. But let's take a listen now to President Bush.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Please be seated.

Mr. Prime Minister, as I said on the South Lawn, we are delighted to have you here in Washington.

The prime minister and I have got a very friendly relationship. We've just had two hours of discussions. We talked about a lot of areas of mutual concern. I reminded the American people, Mr. Prime Minister, over the past months that it was not always a given that the United States and America (sic) would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war -- 60 years ago we were at war.

And, today, we talked about North Korea and Iran and Iraq and trade and energy cooperation.

It's an amazing fact that we're able to have these discussions.

To me, it shows the power of liberty and democracy to transform enemies to allies and to help transform the world.

And one thing about the prime minister is he understands that. He's a firm believer in universal values. He believes in freedom. And he's willing to act on those beliefs.

And we have been a strong partner in peace, Mr. Prime Minister.

You've had a remarkable tenure as the prime minister of your country. You have led with courage. You have made hard decisions. You've helped us change our relationship so that Japan and the United States will be able to work even closer together in the 21st century.

You made the hard decision to help realign our troops in your part of the world, to better accommodate the needs of the Japanese people and at the same time keep in position a relationship that'll be necessary for peace and stability.

I want to thank you for opening your markets to U.S. beef. I think the Japanese people are going to like the taste of U.S. beef.


As a matter of fact, I had a good slice of beef last night. And you told me you did as well and you look like you're feeling pretty good.



BUSH: Yes, right, good.


We had an interesting discussion about energy. And one of the things that Japan and the United States can do is we can help provide technologies that will improve the climate as well as reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons.

We discussed the nuclear suppliers group that we're part of, and our contributions to some research and development that will help speed up fast breeder reactors and new types of reprocessing so that we help deal with the cost of globalization when it comes to energy, make ourselves more secure economically, as well as make us less dependent on hydrocarbons from parts of the world that, you know, may not agree with our policies.

As I mentioned, we discussed Iraq and Afghanistan.

By the way, the Japanese defense forces did a really good job when they were in Iraq.

And they're able to leave because they did such a good job. And now the Iraqis will be running the province in which the Japanese forces used to be.

Nevertheless, the prime minister, as he mentioned in the comments, will continue to provide airlift capacity and naval help.

The North Korean issue is one, obviously, that's got everybody's attention now. And we discussed this issue at length. We both agree that it's very important for us to remain united in sending a clear message to the North Korean leader that, first of all, launching the missile is unacceptable.

There's been no briefings as to what's on top of the missile. He hasn't told anybody where the missile's going. He has an obligation, it seems like, to me and the prime minister, that there be a full briefing to those of us who are concerned about this as to what his intentions are.

That makes sense, doesn't it? It's a reasonable thing for somebody to do.

We talked about the six-party talks and to make sure we remain bound up in sending a clear message to the leader of North Korea.

I also talked about one of the most touching moments in my presidency, when the mom of the abducted daughter came to the Oval Office and talked to me about what it was like to have a young daughter abducted by the North Koreans.

And it really broke my heart. I told the prime minister it was a moving moment for me. I just could not imagine what it would be like to have someone have taken, you know, my daughter -- one of my daughters -- and never be able to see her again.

And the woman showed such great courage, Mr. Prime Minister, when she came and shared her story with me.

It took everything I could not to weep listening to her.

It also reminded me about the nature of the regime: What kind of regime would kidnap people? Just take them offshore, you know. What kind of person would not care about how that woman felt?

And so we talked about the need to work together to bring a resolution to this issue about nuclear weapons. And I reminded the prime minister -- he didn't need reminding, but I'm going to share it with him once again -- my deep concern about the human condition inside North Korea. He shares that condition. After all, he's the prime minister of a country that has suffered a lot as a result of abductions. And so we spent time talking about abductions.

All in all, it was a visit that I knew was going to be a good one, because I know the man. I know what he's like. He's a good thinker, he's a strategic thinker, he's a clear speaker.

And, plus, as you all know, it's become quite well known that we're going to end the visit at Graceland tomorrow. He's an Elvis fan.

Laura and I gave him a jukebox as a gift. And I can't -- what song did you -- what was the first song you put on?

It wasn't "Hound Dog." It was...


BUSH: Yes.

See, he loves Elvis.


And I couldn't think of a better way to honor my friend by going to Graceland. But it also sends a signal about how close our relationship is.

And so, Mr. Prime Minister, we're glad you're here. Thanks for your friendship. Thanks for your alliance. And thanks for your leadership.

KOIZUMI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you very much.

With President Bush, I had a very candid exchange of views. Over the past five years I really had a close friendship with President Bush, and thanks to that we've been able to have very candid exchange of views.

And I believe this is not just related to close relations between us personally, but I believe this close relationship is necessary in the future between Japan and the United States as well.

Japan and the United States is in a Japan-U.S. alliance in the world. And we reconfirmed that we can cooperate with each other on various challenges, maintain Japan's security and deterrence, and reduce burdens on local communities.

On these points, we were able to have a very important agreement. And we're most grateful for that.

And in the meeting, we discussed not just Japan-U.S. bilateral relations, but numerous challenges that the world community faces today: Afghanistan, North Korea, poverty reduction -- reduce poverty for people who suffer from various diseases.

We shared a common perception and by doing so will be able to cooperate with each other. Now, Japan, in a way different than the U.S., has been supporting the nation-building in Iraq by the Iraqis themselves. The Ground Self-Defense Forces stationed in Samawah, having accomplished their mission, will be withdrawing. But as a responsible member of the international community, through cooperation with various countries concerned, and through cooperation with the United Nations, Japan will continue to provide support and help the Iraqis get back on their feet.

With regard to North Korea, we spent a lot of time, and I expressed my views and President Bush also expressed his thoughts. President Bush was kind enough to meet with Mrs. Sakie Yokota, and he told me he was very moved on that occasion.

Anyone, if one's daughter is abducted, naturally would be grieved. And this feeling need to be shared by Americans and Japanese.

We discussed that sort of thing.

We do have the six-party talks framework. Japan and the United States need to maintain close coordination and encourage North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community.

With regard to Iranian nuclear proliferation, Japan also is concerned about this problem.

The United States attaches importance to cooperation with E.U. and other countries concerned. Japan certainly supports that U.S. stance of seeking resolution through dialogue regarding the nuclear proliferation issue.

The Iranian issue remains a grave issue for the entire world economy. And Japan wishes to cooperate with the United States and other countries concerned on this matter as well.

On U.N. reforms, building on the results achieved so far, we would like to work out, with the G-4 (ph), a proposal that can be supported by the United States and achieve reforms of the United Nations and the Security Council.

Japan and the United States will maintain close coordination and partnership. We need to do that and address the various challenges.

A Japan-U.S. alliance is not just an alliance for our two countries. It is an alliance for the world. And in the interest of the world, we were able to confirm that we need to cooperate with each other.

And I think this was a very substantive, fruitful meeting. And I would like to thank President Bush and the U.S. for a very warm, hospitable (ph) welcome.

BUSH: We've agreed to take two questions a side.

Walking in, I reminded the prime minister of one of Elvis' greatest songs: "Don't Be Cruel."


So keep that in mind when you ask your question.


QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

You've said that you wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay but you were waiting for the Supreme Court decision that came out today. Do you intend now to close Guantanamo Bay quickly? And how do you deal with the suspects that you said were too dangerous to be released or sent home?

BUSH: You know, I -- thank you for the question on the court ruling that literally came out in the midst of my meeting with the prime minister. And so I haven't had a chance to fully review the findings of the Supreme Court.

I, one, assure you that we take them very seriously.

Two, that to the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so.

The American people need to know that this ruling, as I understand it, won't cause killers to be put out on the street. In other words, there's not a -- as I had a drive-by briefing on the way here, I was told that this was not going to be the case.

At any rate, we will seriously look at the findings, obviously.

And one thing I'm not going to do, though, is I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. People got to understand that. I understand we're in a war on terror, that these people were picked up off of a battlefield, and I will protect the people and at the same time conform with the findings of the Supreme Court.


BUSH: I haven't had a chance to fully review what the court said. I wish I had; I could have given you a better answer.

As I say, we take the findings seriously.

And, again, as I understand it -- now, please don't hold me to this -- that there is a way forward with military tribunals in working with the United States Congress. As I understand, certain senators have already been out expressing their desire to address what the Supreme Court found. And we will work with the Congress.

I want to find a way forward. In other words, I have told the people that I would like for there to be a way to return people from Guantanamo to their home countries. But some people need to be tried in our courts, and the Hamdan decision was the way forward for that part of my statement.

And, again, I would like to review the case. And we are. We got people looking at it right now to determine how we can work with Congress, if that's available, to solve the problem.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): On North Korea, I'd like to ask a question of both of you, Prime Minister and President, on North Korea.

I understand you spent a lot of time to exchange views.

It is said that the North Koreans are preparing to launch a Taepo Dong-2. To resolve this missile issue, what kind of cooperation do you think is possible between Japan and the United States? And, also, did you discuss possibly referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council?

On the abduction issue and human rights issue, I understand, Mr. President, you've shown deep concern for the resolution of the abduction issue. What sort of cooperation do you think is possible between U.S. and Japan?

BUSH: You want to go? Yes, please.

KOIZUMI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): On the North Koreans, I believe in the first place we need to try and approach the North Koreans not to launch a Taepo Dong-2, and through various efforts. And should they launch a missile, that will cause various -- we would apply various pressures.

And we discussed that. I believe it is best that I do not discuss what specific pressures we were talking about.

As we approach the North Koreans, we shall maintain close cooperation and coordination with the United States, including the abduction issue.


BUSH: ... all kinds of opportunities. And, you know, the U.N. is an opportunity to express our common concern.

You know another interesting opportunity is, over time, to work on missile defenses. You know, the Japanese cannot afford to be held hostage to rockets. And neither can the United States or any other body that loves freedom.

And so one really interesting opportunity is to share and cooperate on missile defenses.

You know, the leader of North Korea is just going to have to make a decision. Does he want to be isolated from the world or is he interested in being an active participant in the nations of the world who care about their people and desire peace?

It's his choice to make. We've made our choice. We believe it's important for nations such as Japan and the United States to be active participants in the world in a positive way. And that's what we're doing.

You know, a lot of the focus of our relationship is based upon, obviously, Iraq and Afghanistan, but the truth of the matter is, Japan and the United States make mighty contributions to end suffering because of disease and hunger.

And that's why I appreciate the prime minister's leadership. He understands that with economic might comes serious responsibilities in the world. And the United States takes those responsibilities seriously, and so does Japan.

QUESTION: Mr. President, can I assume you've at least been given some of the broad strokes of the Supreme Court's decision on Guantanamo?

BUSH: No, I just gave you the answer on that. I'd be glad to answer another question...


... but I gave you the broad strokes I've been given.

QUESTION: Right. But can you comment on what looks like a judicial repudiation of your administration's policy on the treatment of terror suspects post-9/11?

BUSH: I can't -- I wish I could comment on it; would, obviously. I'm a person who, you know, generally comments on things. I haven't been briefed enough to make a comment on it, except for the following things.

I'm sorry you had to waste your question...


... but we will conform to the Supreme Court. We will analyze the decision. To the extent that the Congress is given any latitude to develop a way forward using military tribunals, we will work with them.

As I understand, a senator has already been on TV. I haven't seen it. I haven't heard what he said, but they briefed me and said he wants to devise law in conformity with the case that would enable us to use a military tribunal to hold these people to account. And if that's the case, we'll work with him.

But, you know, that's -- I can't comment any more than I have just done in the first question. Otherwise, I would have. I just hadn't been fully briefed enough to answer your question.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Over the past five years, Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush have built up the best sort of relationship between the two of you in the history of Japan and the United States.

Now, what is the greatest reason for having maintained this policy or attaching the greatest importance to Japan-U.S. relations?

And a question for President Bush: Various problems have occurred after 9/11, and in Prime Minister Koizumi's policy of attaching importance to Japan-U.S. relations what was the case -- instance where you were most appreciative of Prime Minister Koizumi's position?

And what sort of impact has it had on your feeling and stance toward Japan?

KOIZUMI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, attaching importance to our relations with the United States -- well, after the Second World War, throughout -- over the past 60 years, Japan has maintained that policy. We've recognized the importance of a Japan-U.S. alliance and also maintain the stance of international cooperation and coordination.

It's because we've learned the lessons of World War II we took up this policy, believing that this was good for Japan. In the past, today and the future as well: maintain Japan-U.S. alliance and international cooperation. This is a very important fundamental policy of Japan that should never change.

Last year, President Bush visited Kyoto in Japan and we had one- on-one meeting. Some seemed to think that -- to the extent Japan-U.S. relations is undermined, that could be complemented by better relations with Asia and other countries. And I said I do not subscribe to that view.

The better the Japan-U.S. relations, my view is that we will be able to have better relations in China and other countries in Asia.

Now, some in the mass media took up on that and misinterpreted my position. In other words, they thought that I was saying, to the extent Japan-U.S. relations remain good, I couldn't care less what Japan's relations would be with other countries. That is not at all what I said.

I've been saying that there's no country in the world that has as important bilateral relations as Japan-U.S. bilateral relations. But I have no view such as having better relations with the United States at the expense of relations with other countries.

My view is that, by having better relations with the United States, I can have better relations with other countries.

And from that perspective, in the post-war years -- and Japan has achieved remarkable growth and development; it is because we've learned lessons from the past, in our relations with the United States, and are determined to maintain friendly relations with the United States.

And that is what we have done to date.

In the future as well, the Japan-U.S. alliance is something that will contribute to the resolution of various challenges in the world by maintaining friendly ties between Japan and the United States.

Attaching importance to our relations with the United States does not sacrifice our views on relations with other countries. Please don't misunderstand.

BUSH: It's a pretty tricky question.

I hate to point out one area that has influenced my thinking about Japan's contributions, for fear of diminishing the contributions in other areas. Because the truth of the matter is we live in a very complex world, and by cooperating to solve problems, it makes the world a better place.

However, since you asked, I'll answer.

I would think it is the prime minister's understanding of the capacity for democracies to help change the conditions of the world. And therefore his strong support for helping a new Afghanistan democracy grow and his willingness to do something a lot of other leaders in Japan have been unwilling to do, which is to commit Self- Defense Forces to help the growth of a new democracy.

And I tell the American people this. I use the prime minister all the time in my speeches, as the press corps will tell you -- incredibly bored of hearing.

But, nevertheless, I do share the example with people about my relationship with the prime minister.

It is just -- it strikes me as just amazing. A lot of people take it for granted. I don't. Because 60 years ago, we were at war. And something happened between our visit to Graceland and when our respective fathers look at each other with deep suspicion.

And what happened was Japan developed a Japanese-style democracy based upon shared values.

And today we're able to discuss peace. It is a remarkable transformation of a relationship. We just happen to be the beneficiaries of that transformation.

I also believe, however, that there are people who are coming up who shedded (ph) the bonds of tyranny are also the benefits (sic) of this relationship.

And so Japan is making a mighty contribution to new democracy, which I strongly believe is in our nation's interests and I strongly believe will yield peace.

And I firmly believe that the example that we show today will be repeated over the decades, particularly with newly elected leaders in the Middle East.

And the prime minister understands that. And I'm grateful for the contribution of the Japanese people to the cause of peace.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

KOIZUMI: Thank you very much American people for "Love Me Tender."


BUSH: "Love Me Tender."