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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
Senator urges Guantanamo closure
US soldiers watches prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The camps at Guantanamo have been in place for three years
A leading senator and member of the Foreign Relations Committee has said that the US should close its detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

Democrat Joseph Biden said the controversy over the military camp put Americans at risk from terrorism rather than protecting them from it.

He said the future of the centre needed to be examined.

Hundreds of alleged terrorism suspects have been held at the camp without charge for up to three years.

Independent commission

Guantanamo "has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world and it is unnecessary to be in that position", Mr Biden said.

"We should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners," he told ABC's This Week programme.

"Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go."

US Senator Joseph Biden
Biden's comments come amid a controversy over prisoner treatment

An independent commission should examine all the prisons in which the US detains those it deems terrorist suspects, he said.

The comments came two days after the Pentagon admitted that guards at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.

Last month, Amnesty International called the detention centre for alleged terrorists "the gulag of our time", referring to the system of forced labour camps in the Soviet Union in which millions of prisoners died.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the charge was "reprehensible".

Senator Biden, as a member of the opposition, can have only a limited impact on policy, says the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington.

But his words reflect an anxious debate here about the treatment of detainees and how it reflects on America's image in the world, our correspondent says.


Your comments

It is very wrong and inhuman what the Americans are doing to the prisoners at Guantanamo. It is not about me being a Muslim - it's about having equal rights. America is just imposing their laws on every country, which I believe is wrong. They should justify themselves in their country first then come out and help others. They should not intervene in others' problems and create a bigger mess .
Faizal, Dubai

If the US is following all of the international rules with regard to prisoner treatment, why keep the camp at Guantanamo? Why the grey area? Americans need to sit up and take notice of what their government is perpetrating in the name of "national security." Even those of us on the inside of the government are secretly questioning the moral correctness of what we're doing. The ends don't justify the means.
USAF Officer, Washington D.C., USA

If we don't honour the terms of the Geneva Convention, how can we expect others to in future conflicts? This administration has made us the world's biggest fools and generated ten times as much terrorism and hatred towards us.
Tom Moriarty, Pueblo, Co USA

It brings me great pleasure to hear that one of our sentors is bright enough to see the writing on the wall and brave enough to say something about it. The entire Iraq campaign and subsequent treating of detainees has served as nothing more than a perfect example as to why we are so greatly disliked in the international community. But it is that same arrogance and self centeredness that keeps us as a nation oblivious to it. I am certain that Mr. Biden will be suffer for this, called things such as "unpatriotic" perhaps even a "terrorist sympathiser", but it goes to show you what kind of people we have over here, and how these same people could re-elect such a clueless man. But hey, don't blame me, I never voted for him!
Mauricio, Miami, FL, USA

Everyone, no matter who they are or what they are supposed to have done deserves a fair trial
Dan, London

Guantanamo Bay represents everything undemocratic, unjust and against human rights that the USA (champions of Freedom and Democracy) stand for. It shows the hypocrisy of every US pronouncement about standing for freedom. It should be closed now. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they are supposed to have done deserves a fair trial.
Dan, London

It seems Senator Biden is more concerned with America's image, and the comparatively small possibility of future terrorist threats, than the actual disturbing and disgraceful nature of the Guantanamo Bay prison system. Perhaps it's a start that someone in the US Senate is speaking out against this, but it always saddens me when people talk in clinical terms and bypass the offence against humanity thatis going on under their noses.
Isla, London

Biden is right. He speaks for a substantial proportion of US citizens who mostly feel obliged to keep their mouths shut. The hastily enacted "Patriot Act" that permits the Guantanamo affront to rule by law is high on the list of the most un-American legislation ever passed in this nation.
Sam Collins, Custer, South Dakota, USA

The right to a fair and speedy trial is one of the rights in the US Constitution. Alas, these Guantanamo Bay incidents are only a few examples of when the Bush Administration has trampled on the Constitution for its own ends.
Sharell Belanfante, Georgia, US

If Guantanamo ever served a national security purpose, that is no longer the case. It is, simply, a convenient offshore location for my government to avoid the reach of domestic and international law. We need a genuine public repudiation of such abuses, which can only be achieved by submitting the abusers to the jurisdiction of appropriate war crimes tribunals.
John Mitchell, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

I think that Guantanamo has exposed the true colours of America, it has clearly shown their double standards and that their so called democracy, freedom and justice is only applied when it suits their interests. Otherwise they are just corrupt as other dictatorships in the world. They have inflamed more hatred towards America by their conduct against the Muslim detainees in Guantanamo and Iraq. But I guess the American public can only blame themselves from re-electing their President.
Shaima Jillood, London England

I agree with Senator Biden. Close Guantanamo! Also, bring all US troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and Europe. The world does not want the US to be the world policeman, and most Americans, including myself do not want it either. Any place we're not welcome in, by all means, get out!
Marshall J, Cape Town, South Africa

Finally, some comments from an American that reflects humanity. Guantanamo has become a symbol of inhumanity and vulgarity. The Koran issue was the most depressing issue of all. Guantanamo is not bringing a good name to the USA in any respect, and I agree with Democrat Joseph Biden over his point that Guantanamo puts Americans at risk from terrorism rather than protecting them from it.
U Qazi, Islamabad, Pakistan

Too many documented incidents of prisoner abuse by the Americans have emerged from their prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. This breaking of the Geneva Conventions has undermined the American military and is at odds with our nation's ethics and traditions. Under such circumstances how can the US possibly expect to promote democracy worldwide?
M. Shurdom, Amman, Jordan

It is truly a black hole in America's image
c" enough by the increasingly bias American media.
All I have to say is that it is about time someone in our senate got enough guts to stand up and finally face the truth about our image in the world as a result of this horrible place. It is truly a black hole in America's image. If only more senators would follow this lead, but that probably won't happen since such actions in the past have branded politicians as not "patriotic" enough by the increasingly bias American media.
Adi, New York, US

Guantanamo will be remembered as the American Gulag and Bush's legacy. As Jack Johnson says, "We've got heaps and heaps of what we sow." Senator Biden is a politician. Where is the outrage of the silent American majority?
David Orr, Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada

Surely it is time the prisoners are publicly tried, then convicted or released. If Guantanamo is closed they will only be moved elsewhere.
Steven Jones, wales

Closing Guantanamo would be a start, but moves should be made to repair the damage done by years of selfish, greed based foreign policy. Americans seem to be oblivious to the reasons many in the world dislike them - the poor of South America, Asia and Africa are good examples. World trade means Trade on US terms to most of the peoples of the world.
Dave, Frimley UK and Ikeja Nigeria

I don't understand it - if you have a reason to keep somebody prisoner then surely you can just charge them? If you can't bring any charges forward then they are clearly innocent. It's got to be one thing or the other; either they have evidence or they don't.
Dan Herman, Dudley, UK

Guantanamo Bay is obviously applied double standards and a disgrace according to any democratic country accepting the Geneva Convention outside USA. In the light of America's crusade for democracy and peace (as a result of a successful war on terror) it should just be closed. Remember: The actions speaks louder than the words, America.
Jo Leitz, Walvis Bay, Namibia




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch Senator Biden speak about Guantanamo



SEE ALSO:
US general rejects Amnesty report
30 May 05 |  Americas
Inquiry finds Koran 'mishandling'
27 May 05 |  Americas
Amnesty chief laments war failure
20 Jan 05 |  UK Politics


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