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The only thing we know for certain is these are bad people.

There was this Bush line in a CNN story earlier this evening that was badly placed so that I couldn't figure out the context:

"The only thing we know for certain is these are bad people," Bush said.

I thought, is Bush saying that the war with Iraq is all just a matter or good vs. evil? Or is he saying none of our intelligence on Iraq is any good? Or what? I got as far as copying the line but not pasting it and went off to the beach. Now it's gone from the CNN story.

Did Bush say it or not? If he said it, in what context? And what could he have meant by it?

Since I couldn't figure out the context of the quote, clearly the news story needed work. But presumably Bush actually said it, since it was there in the first place. CNN seems to have made Bush make a bit more sense in the intervening two hours.

Anyone know anything about this?

UPDATE: The quote seems to have been revised back in in a context (or maybe I temporarily lost the ability to read):

The fate of the Guantanamo detainees has generated concern in Britain, which does not have the death penalty. Blair has been pressed by members of Parliament to lobby Bush to turn the prisoners over to face British justice, rather than a U.S. military tribunal.

"We will work with the Blair government on this issue," Bush said. "The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people."

OK, this makes a bit more sense than it initially seemed to. I don't agree with him, but the quote no longer seems to be a general satement about the whole mess.


Here's the whole exchange from the Bush-Blair news conference as reported in the NYT:

Q I wonder if I could ask you both about one aspect of Iraq and freedom and justice, which, as you know, is causing great deal of concern in Britain and the British parliament -- that is, what happens now in Guantanamo Bay to the people detained there, particularly whether there's any chance that the president will return the British citizens to face British justice as John Walker Lindh faced regular American justice?

And just on a quick point, could the prime minister react to the decision of the foreign affairs committee tonight that the BBC reporter, Andrew Gilligan is a, quote, "unsatisfactory witness"?

PRESIDENT BUSH: (To Blair.) You probably ought to comment on that one. (Laughter.)

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: Well, can I just say to you on the first point, obviously this is an issue that we will discuss when we begin our talks tonight, and we will put out a statement on that tomorrow for you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, we will work with the Blair government on this issue. And we're about to -- after we finish answering your questions, we're going to go upstairs and discuss the issue.

Q (Off mike) -- the people detained there?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. The only I know for certain is that these are bad people. And we look forward to working closely with the Blair government to deal with the issue.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: On your other point, Adam, the issue here is very, very simple. The whole debate for weeks revolved around a claim that either I or a member of my staff had effectively inserted intelligence into the dossier we put before the British people against the wishes of the intelligence services. Now, that is a serious charge. It never was true. Everybody now knows that that charge is untrue. And all we are saying is those who made that charge should simply accept that it is untrue. It's as simple as that.

The quote remains a little mysterious, as it is unclear exactly what question Bush was responding to. Also, in the rewritten CNN story, they've cleaned up a bit of Bush grammatical wandering. He seems to be saying that we are confident that the Guantanamo Bay detainees are bad people without much confidence in any other information about them. This is somewhat at odds with the American legal tradition.

Note that in the quote that initially caught my attention, CNN appears to have added a word to make the sentence grammatical.