“I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court,” Mr Bush said in an interview on the German television channel ARD.
“And we’re waiting for our Supreme Court to give us a decision as to whether the people need to have a fair trial in a civilian court or in a military court,” he said.
While acknowledging the camp was a sensitive issue for people, Mr Bush said: “We’re at war with an enemy and we’ve got to protect ourselves.”
On Thursday the US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in Vienna the existence of the camp was absolutely essential, in spite of repeated calls to close it.
Several foreign leaders, including the chief ally of the US, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have expressed unhappiness about the camp, Mr Blair describing it as an “anomaly”.
The camp was opened in January 2002, mainly to hold people held in Afghanistan the previous year. Some detainees have been freed but only 10 of the 490 being held have been formally charged and none tried.
There has been an international outcry over conditions at the camp and the indefinite detention of the prisoners but the US administration has ignored all appeals, including one from the United Nations, to try or free the prisoners.
Meanwhile lawyers for Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks say the US government could prevent their client from swearing allegiance to become a British citizen.
Mr Hicks’ supporters are waiting for confirmation that the British Court of Appeal has rejected further appeals from the British Government against his bid for citizenship.
Britain successfully lobbied for nine other detainees to be released back to the UK.
But Mr Hicks’ Australian lawyer, David Mcleod, says even if the win is confirmed, consular officials may still be prevented from gaining access to the detention centre in Cuba.