- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

GENEVA (AP) — A key U.N. panel yesterday joined European and United Nations leaders in urging the Bush administration to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects there violates the world’s ban on torture.

The report by the Committee Against Torture came as the U.S. military disclosed that prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from apparently committing suicide.

The panel also said the United States should ensure that no prisoner is subjected to torture.

The U.S. government insisted that it complies with the treaty, including at the lockup at Guantanamo. “It is important to note that everything that is done in terms of questioning detainees is fully within the boundaries of American law,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen are among leaders friendly to the Bush administration who have said Guantanamo should close, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it will eventually have to close. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.N. investigators also have called for shutting the prison.

President Bush has said he would like to close Guantanamo, but is waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on whether inmates can face military tribunals.

The United States expressed disappointment with the committee report, which was based on two sessions this month with a 25-member delegation of officials from Washington and hundreds of pages of U.S. documents.

“It’s unfortunate that they don’t appear to have read a good deal of that information or have ignored it, and as a result there are a number of both factual inaccuracies and legal misstatements about the law applicable to the United States,” said State Department legal adviser John B. Bellinger III.

At Guantanamo, meanwhile, prisoners with improvised weapons attacked military guards trying to save a detainee who the guards thought was attempting to commit suicide, the base commander said yesterday. Six prisoners were injured.

U.S. guards were lured Thursday evening into a dormlike room at a minimum-security wing of the detention center by a detainee pretending to prepare to hang himself, said Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

The guards sought to save the detainee but were pounced on by others wielding broken light fixtures, fan blades and pieces of metal. The detainees were eventually subdued, and six were treated for “minor injuries,” Adm. Harris said.

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