(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says he believes the Bush administration is stonewalling his effort to find out if cases of prisoner abuse have occurred at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For over a month the administration has ignored Leahy’s request to see videos of prison interrogations that were conducted at the detention center.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Leahy is concerned that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been subjected to higher levels of abuse than the prisoners at the Abu Graib prison in Iraq because the detainees have been designated by the Bush administration as “enemy combatants.” As such, they’re not bound by the provisions of the Geneva Convention.
About 600 detainees are being held at the detention center. Most of them were captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and were transported to the prison at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay.
Leahy, who’s the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says that many of the interrogations at Guantanamo Bay were videotaped by the military and he’s asked the Pentagon to make these videos available to select members of Congress.
(Leahy) “What bothers me about Guantanamo Bay is that I’m getting the same kind of push back that I got at Abu Graib and Afghanistan. Remember, I started asking these questions a year ago and either I got no answers or non-answers. I don’t see where this is an awful lot different. It’s the same way with Attorney General Ashcroft refusing to answer. I have never seen such an effort to cover up since the days of the Nixon administration.”
(Kinzel) The Pentagon has released some additional videos of prisoner abuse in Iraq to members of Congress. Leahy says he’s seen most of these videos and he says the violence on them far exceeds the behavior exhibited on the tapes that were released to the public:
(Leahy) “I have seen a lot of the videos. I had the offer to see all of them; some were so disgusting I finally walked out of the room in disgust. I told my wife when I got home I thought I saw some awful things when I was a prosecutor – murder scenes, abuse scenes. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
(Kinzel) Leahy says the Pentagon’s refusal to release the Guantanamo Bay tapes unfairly hurts the credibility of many of the soldiers serving in the military.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.