Former president Jimmy Carter called Tuesday for the United States to close its detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to demonstrate its commitment to human rights.
"The U.S. continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation . . . because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo," Carter said after a two-day human rights conference at his Atlanta center.
The reports have surfaced despite President Bush's "bold reminder that America is determined to promote freedom and democracy around the world," he said.
About 540 detainees are being held 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 and were sent to the prison in hope of extracting intelligence about the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Carter said the United States needs to make sure that no detainees are held incommunicado and that all are told the charges against them.
Despite his criticism, Carter said Amnesty International should not have called the prison "the gulag of our time" in a report last month. He said the alleged abuse at Guantanamo Bay could never compare with the forced labor camps operated by the former Soviet Union.