White House Rejects Probe of Guantanamo

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 21, 2005; 5:35 PM


WASHINGTON -- The White House on Tuesday rejected the
proposed creation of an independent commission to
investigate abuses of detainees held at the U.S.
military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the
Pentagon has launched 10 major investigations into
allegations of abuse, and that system was working

"People are being held to account," he said. "And we
think that's the way to go about this."

McClellan said the Defense Department would continue
to investigate any new allegations. And he noted that
the Pentagon has appointed outsiders to some of its

The Pentagon considered a probe into the Abu Ghraib
prison scandal in Iraq as independent. The
investigation was headed by former Defense Secretary
James Schlesinger, but its members were appointed by
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has been
criticized in the scandal.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have increasingly called for
an independent commission to look into detainee
abuses. On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi, D-Calif., said a commission is crucial to
answering questions about the atmosphere that
permitted abuses, troop training and the length of
detentions at Guantanamo.

"These questions are important because the safety of
our country depends on our reputation and how we are
viewed, especially in the Muslim world," she said.

There are about 540 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Some
have been there more than three years without being
charged with a crime. Most were captured on the
battlefields of Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 and were
sent to Guantanamo Bay in hope of extracting useful
intelligence about the al-Qaida terrorist network.

A recent Pentagon report detailed incidents in which
U.S. guards at Guantanamo mishandled prisoners' copies
of the Quran, the Muslim holy book. Last month,
Amnesty International called the detention center for
alleged terrorists "the gulag of our time," a charge
Rumsfeld dismissed as "reprehensible."


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