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Senate Republicans: Closing Guantanamo not the answer

Associated Press
Published June 15, 2005


WASHINGTON - Prominent Senate Republicans said Tuesday that closing the Guantanamo Bay prison will not fix a U.S. image tarnished by allegations of American troops mistreating terrorism suspects.

"To cut and run because of image problems is the wrong, wrong thing to do," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that while the United States has an image problem because of allegations of abuse and torture at the prison in Cuba, "the key to this is to move the judicial process forward so that these individuals will be brought to trial for any crime that they are accused of rather than residing in Guantanamo facility in perpetuity."

A few of their GOP colleagues are raising questions about keeping the prison in Cuba open, arguing that it has given the country a bad name abroad and undermined the war on terrorism.

Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday said that war-on-terror detainees would continue to be held at Guantanamo, even as the White House said all options for the prison's future were on the table.

Over the past few days, several Republicans have acknowledged an image problem at Guantanamo. But they also have said that shutting down the facility, which one human rights group likened to a "gulag," is not the answer.

"Reform it, don't close it," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a GOP member of the Armed Services Committee.

Some Democrats have called for the administration to close the prison because of the allegations of torture and abuse. The prison holds about 540 terrorism suspects, including some who have not faced charges in three years.

U.S. will need Guantanamo prison for years to come, Rumsfeld says

WASHINGTON - The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be needed for years to come, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested Tuesday. There is no alternative location to hold and interrogate the suspected terrorists held there, he said.

"I don't know any place where we have infrastructure that's appropriate for that sizable group of people," he said during a Pentagon news conference.

"The United States government, let alone the U.S. military, does not want to be in the position of holding suspected terrorists any longer than is absolutely necessary," he said, "but as long as there remains a need to keep terrorists from striking again, a facility will continue to be needed."

Rumsfeld said Guantanamo's operations have been more open to scrutiny than any military detention facility in history. He said valuable information has been extracted from the detainees, most of whom are threats to U.S. security.

Senate confirms Bush judicial nominee

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Tuesday confirmed one of its former lawyers, Thomas B. Griffith, to sit on the U.S. Appeals Court, the sixth judge it has elevated to the federal appellate court in the last month.

With a 73-24 vote, Griffith becomes the newest judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, taking a seat that the Bush administration originally wanted for filibustered Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada.

Estrada dropped out in September 2003 after being blocked by Democrats, and President Bush replaced him in June 2004 with Griffith, who was the chamber's general counsel during President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

CAFTA takes step forward in Senate

WASHINGTON - A major free trade agreement with Central American nations moved forward in the Senate Tuesday, although senators put off how to deal with the sugar industry opposition that is the biggest obstacle to passage.

The Senate Finance Committee accepted one change in conjunction with the Central American Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA, extending to service workers a federal program to assist workers displaced by trade competition.

The panel rejected a proposal to ensure labor laws are enforced and did not take up amendments to protect the sugar industry from what it perceives as threats from Central American imports.

Bolton vote may come this week

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans sought Tuesday to increase the political heat on Democrats who have been stalling the nomination of President Bush's choice to be U.N. ambassador.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would schedule a vote at the end of the week to cut off debate on John R. Bolton so that the Senate can hold a final vote on Bolton's nomination.

Democrats say the administration has refused to give them information they need to decide whether Bolton is the right man for the job.

[Last modified June 15, 2005, 00:44:10]


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