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US Lawmakers Meet With Red Cross on US Treatment of Detainees in Overseas Prisons - 2004-06-25


A Senate panel has met with officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross to discuss U.S. treatment of detainees in prisons overseas.

The Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday held the first of a series of closed hearings with officials from the ICRC who oversee U.S. detention facilities worldwide.

The Senate panel is conducting a review of U.S. treatment of detainees at prisons and detention centers overseas in the wake of a prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

The Red Cross had found abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad months before the scandal surfaced.

Thursday's hearing did not deal with prisons in Iraq, but with the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where U.S. officials also are investigating reports of abuse.

Emerging from the hearing, the Chairman of the Senate panel, Republican Senator John Warner was asked about the Red Cross report on Guantanamo Bay. Bound by an agreement with the humanitarian organization not to divulge too much information about Red Cross findings out of concern it would undermine its work, Mr. Warner chose his words carefully.

"It seems to me to be very thorough. The Red Cross team came in, talked with the persons operating the facilities, were given certain access to the prisoners, the facility," he said. "It seems to me a very orderly process. The Red Cross came back with recommendations that should be followed. As far as I know, those recommendations each time have been accepted and followed."

Future Armed Services Committee hearings with Red Cross officials will examine detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Warner says he expects the prisoner abuse issue to be raised during a hearing of his committee Friday, when senior State Department and Pentagon officials are to testify.

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