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US Official Assures Lawmakers on Guantanamo Abuse Investigation


A U.S official has told Congress that the government is energetically investigating allegations of abuses of terrorist suspects being held at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Media reports about alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay have been embarrassing for the United States as it continues to carry on the war on terrorism.

Recently, the CBS television network program 60 Minutes aired an interview with a U.S. Army soldier who alleged interrogators used abusive tactics in questioning terror suspects held at the facility.

That report also focused on e-mails from agents of the FBI who warned the agency's headquarters in Washington about torture techniques being used at Guantanamo.

Newsweek magazine also reported on abuse allegations, saying investigators uncovered evidence that interrogators desecrated Korans in the process of trying to obtain information from detainees at Guantanamo.

The Newsweek report sparked anger in Afghanistan, where Muslim students staged a demonstration Tuesday, and in Pakistan.

The U.S. Congress, where concern is mounting, is monitoring the progress of investigations by the U.S. military and the Department of Justice.

In comments to a House of Representatives Committee Tuesday, Glenn Fine, Inspector General of the Justice Department, sought to assure lawmakers: "I want to note for the committee an ongoing OIG (Office of Inspector General) review that is examining the observations by FBI employees of interrogation techniques used on detainees at the U.S. military facilities in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. The OIG is examining whether and to whom FBI employees reported any observations of abuse and interrogation of detainees, how those reports were handled, and whether any FBI employees participated in abusive interrogations."

Another allegation emerging from the CBS report on Guantanamo was that some interrogations of detainees had been staged (faked or exaggerated) to give visiting U.S. lawmakers and military officials false impressions.

In Tuesday's hearing, Congressman Howard Coble, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, addressed that allegation in this exchange with Mr. Fine:

FINE: We have an ongoing review of that (allegations by FBI agents regarding interrogations). Our folks have been down to Guantanamo so we are actively reviewing the matter.

COBLE: Well it (interrogations) appeared to be regular (being done properly) to me, but they (U.S. military officials) had control of the apparatus, but they (the interrogations) appeared to be in order as I observed it.

In a recent report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, the United States said there were 10 verified incidents of abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and 22 of detainees held in Afghanistan.

That report brought criticism from human rights groups who said it downplayed or excluded some allegations.

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