(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy is calling for a full investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and at the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Leahy says a review of a limited number of videotapes from Guantanamo Bay doesn’t appear to show the kind of abuse that took place at the Abu Graib prison in Iraq. Still, Leahy wants all the videos from the detainee center to be released.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Leahy has been battling with the Pentagon over the issue of Iraqi prisoner abuse for over a year. Last summer he asked the Defense Department to look into allegations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Graib prison in Baghdad.
Several weeks ago, Leahy expanded his investigation to include the treatment of detainees being held at a detention center at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Leahy took this step after a British newspaper quoted Pentagon officials who acknowledged the existence of videotapes of prisoner interactions at Guantanamo Bay.
It’s believed that prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay might be extensive because the U.S. military is holding the detainees as enemy combatants, a classification that denies them the protections of the Geneva Convention.
This week Penatgon officials showed several members of Leahy’s staff a small number of videos from Guantanamo Bay. The Defense Department says the videos document “incidents” with detainees but are not formal interrogations.
Leahy says the videos don’t show the kind of abuse that was uncovered in Iraq but he thinks the Pentagon should release all of the videos to conclusively show that abuse didn’t take place:
(Leahy) “They claim they didn’t tape interrogations and yet we hear there are complaints of abuses of interrogations and I feel it should be fully investigated. Unfortunately the Congress seems to be taking orders these days right from the White House and the White House doesn’t want much in the way of an investigation.”
(Kinzel) If the interrogation tapes don’t exist, Leahy still wants Pentagon officials to testify under oath about the procedures that were used at the detention center:
(Leahy) “I’d like to see more of the tapes. I’d like to find out exactly what happened in the interrogations. If they didn’t have tapings of the interrogations then bring forth some people who were present there and put them under oath and find out what they have to say.”
(Kinzel) Leahy says he’ll continue to negotiate with Pentagon officials over the release of additional videos from Guantanamo Bay.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.