An Army officer at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, yesterday denied making statements attributed to him in a British newspaper that suggested many of the alleged al Qaeda and Taliban detainees were no threat to the country and would be freed.
In a statement released yesterday, the military unit running the detention facility said remarks by its deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Martin J. Lucenti Sr., were "misquoted or taken out of context" by the Financial Times in an article Tuesday.
The newspaper quoted Lucenti as saying "most of the [detainees], the majority of them, will either be released or transferred to their home countries." The military's statement yesterday said Lucenti "did not use the word 'most' in this context."
Lucenti also denied another quote attributed to him by the Financial Times, that "most of these guys weren't fighting; they were running," according to the military statement. It added that "many detainees were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan where their intelligence was deemed to be of enough value to warrant transfer to Guantanamo."
The Financial Times reporter who wrote the article, Mark Huband, said yesterday that "he did use the word 'most,' exactly the way I quoted him."
Lucenti's remarks in the paper appeared to conflict with past statements by other officials who suggested many detainees there were too dangerous to release and some were providing intelligence of considerable value.
-- John Mintz