Members of Congress See “Progress” in Guantanamo
BBC News has some rather unexpected quotations:
Members of the US Congress who toured Guantanamo Bay prison have said that conditions there are improving, despite renewed calls for its closure.
Their visit came at a time of growing concern that treatment of prisoners there is harming America’s image.
More than 500 non-Americans – many captured during the war in Afghanistan and declared “enemy combatants”- are being detained at the facility.
Only four current inmates have been charged with any crime.
On Saturday 16 Representatives who sit on the House Armed Services Committee toured the prison, at a naval base on Cuba, during a one-day fact-finding trip.
California Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who has pushed for greater transparency about the facility, told AP news agency there had been progress since reports about alleged human rights abuses.
“The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago,” she said.
“What we’ve seen here is evidence that we’ve made progress,” said Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat who believes the facility should close.
But legislators agreed that more needed to be done to ensure a legal framework to deal with detainees, some of whom have been held for three years without charge.
Even though some otherwise critical Democrats are making these statements, I’m reluctant to lend them much weight. Inevitably, dog-and-pony-show tours offer minimal insight into daily operations. Perhaps progress — however one wishes to define it — has indeed been made, but consider the assessment tool:
The group toured cell blocks and ate lunch with troops, a meal of chicken with orange sauce, rice and okra that was also served to inmates.
They watched the interrogation of three suspects, including one in which a detainee was read a Harry Potter book aloud for hours until he turned his back and put his hands over his ears.
None of the detainees was physically touched.
These methods leave much to be desired, to say the least.