A leading Senate Democrat said yesterday that the United States needs to move toward shutting down the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world. And it is unnecessary to be in that position," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said on ABC's "This Week."
A Pentagon report released Friday detailed incidents in which U.S. guards at Guantanamo mishandled the Koran. Last month, Amnesty International called the detention center for alleged terrorists "the gulag of our time," a charge Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld dismissed as "reprehensible."
Although he defended the London-based group's characterization of Guantanamo as a gulag, the head of Amnesty International USA said he does not "know for sure." Executive Director William F. Schulz also told "Fox News Sunday" that "I have no idea" whether Rumsfeld, as Schulz previously stated, is an "apparent high-level architect of torture" for allegedly approving interrogation methods that Schulz said violated international law. "It would be fascinating to find out," Schulz said.
Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed that an independent commission investigate Guantanamo Bay and make recommendations.
"But the end result is, I think we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners," he said. "Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go."
There are about 540 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Some have been there more than three years without being charged with a crime. Most were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.