Bush: Guantanamo Detainees Receiving Humane Treatment
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 20, 2005 While awaiting a federal court ruling about how to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States continues to treat them humanely and according to the Geneva Conventions, President Bush said today during a news conference at the White House.
Bush defended U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, urging reporters to go to the facility to judge for themselves as a federal court weighs whether detainees there should be tried in a military court or in the civilian courts. "When the courts make the decision they make, we'll act accordingly," he said.
The president's comments on the Guantanamo facility were in response to a reporter's question during a joint press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President-in-Office Jean-Claude Juncker.
"Those of us who espouse freedom ... and those who espouse human rights have an obligation ... to live up to those words, and I believe we are in Guantanamo," Bush said. He noted that the International Committee of the Red Cross has around-the-clock inspection rights and invited members of the media to go to the facility "to look at the facts."
The president said the detainees pose a potential security risk to Americans. "These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms, they weren't state-sponsored, but they were there to kill," he said.
"And so the fundamental question facing our government was what to do with these people."
He said he's looking forward to a court ruling to determine the best way to move the process along regarding the other 500 detainees at the facility.
Although they don't qualify for protections offered under the Geneva Conventions, the detainees are being provided those protections, Bush said, adding that about 200 of the detainees have been released back to their home countries.
The president was quick to point out that many of the detainees being held "are dangerous people" who pose a threat to U.S. security. Some of those who have been released have already returned to the battlefield to fight U.S. and coalition troops, he said.
"They're dangerous and they're still around, and they'll kill in a moment's notice," the president said.
"And I have an obligation -- as do all of us who are holding office -- to protect our people," Bush said. "That's a solemn obligation we all have. And I believe we're meeting that obligation in a humane way."