Monday, June 27, 2005

Case defends U.S. prison

A Guantanamo tour leaves him
convinced there is no abuse

Congressman Ed Case said he disagrees with calls to close a detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 500 detainees suspected to have ties to al-Qaida are being held.

"GTMO is being operated well and operated in a way that is necessary for the safety and security of our country," said Case (D-Hawaii) yesterday in a conference call from Washington, D.C.

Some members of Congress have called for the shutdown of the detention facility at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay due to allegations of abuse of detainees. Case described the call from those advocating for the closure as "naive."

Case was part of a 16-member U.S. House delegation that toured the facility during the weekend.

He said he had observed the grounds of five different camps, witnessed interrogations behind a one-way mirror and talked to doctors at the hospital.

Interrogations were "nowhere close to abusive," Case said.

He also had lunch with troops during which he asked questions about facility conditions.

Based on his observations, Case said Guantanamo Bay "does not match the statements by Amnesty International and of some of the attorneys for some of the detainees."

"Detainees are being treated in a humane way," he said, noting they are well fed, provided with good health care and have access to legal assistance.

Those who are being held at the facility include suspected members of al-Qaida, bomb makers and would-be suicide bombers.

"This is a group of the most dangerous of the dangerous. This is the distillation of the worst people we face out there," Case said.

"The reality is we are at a very difficult war," he said.

Case recently joined 170 House colleagues to introduce House Resolution 3003, which would establish an independent commission to investigate allegations of detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

"It was clear after 9/11 that we needed a central facility to detain the most dangerous people we picked up on the field for interrogation. If we left them out in the world, they would try to kill again," Case said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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