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Pentagon invites UN torture investigator to Guantanamo

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051029/ts_nm/security_guantanamo_dc Pentagon invites UN torture investigator to Guantanamo By Will Dunham 1 hour, 15 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2005
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051029/ts_nm/security_guantanamo_dc

      Pentagon invites UN torture investigator to Guantanamo

      By Will Dunham 1 hour, 15 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday
      invited three UN human rights investigators, including
      the one who examines torture allegations, to visit the
      Guantanamo Bay prison camp in a bid to show "we have
      nothing to hide."

      Human rights activists have criticized the United
      States for the indefinite detention of the roughly 505
      detainees being held at the prison for foreign
      terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at
      Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      The Pentagon said the three would be permitted to
      observe operations at Guantanamo "and ask questions of
      the command, staff and U.S. officials who would
      accompany them."

      But Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman on
      detainee issues, said they would not be allowed to
      speak to detainees because that was the role of the
      International Committee of the Red Cross.

      The Pentagon said the invitations were extended to
      Austria's Manfred Nowak, special investigator for the
      United Nations on torture, Pakistan's Asma Jahangir,
      who focuses on religious freedom, and Algeria's Leila
      Zerrougui, who looks into arbitrary detention.

      "This goes to our desire to show that we have nothing
      to hide," Ballesteros said.

      The three rights experts announced they would respond
      to the invitation at a news conference on Monday at UN
      headquarters in New York.

      "Although department policy does not provide for such
      visits to military detention facilities, the
      department has determined on an exceptional basis to
      extend this invitation," the Pentagon said in a
      statement. "The department strives for transparency in
      our operation to the extent possible in light of
      security and operational requirements and the need to
      ensure the safety of our forces."

      Criticism by human rights groups has escalated in
      recent weeks with the U.S. military's disclosure that
      it was force-feeding Guantanamo detainees staging an
      ongoing hunger strike over their conditions and lack
      of legal rights.

      The Pentagon has defended its treatment of prisoners
      and denied that torture has occurred at the Guantanamo
      facility, which opened in January 2002, just months
      after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United
      States. Most of the detainees were seized in
      Afghanistan.

      Men who have been released from Guantanamo have stated
      they were tortured there. The International Committee
      of the Red Cross last year accused the U.S. military
      of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on Guantanamo
      prisoners. An FBI agent wrote in a memo that became
      public last year that Pentagon interrogators used
      "torture techniques" at Guantanamo.

      The United States has classified the detainees as
      "enemy combatants" and denied them rights accorded to
      prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Only
      four detainees have been charged with crimes.
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