Following an 18 month investigation directed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, five experts have called for the U.S. to close Guantanamo Bay. Determining that the force feeding techniques employed by the facility are acts of torture, the UN envoys have composed a 38-page report on their findings. Although the report will not be released until the next UN Commission meeting on March 13, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has already started doing damage control, calling the findings “unfounded.”
The reason? The UN experts based their findings on interviews with released prisoners, lawyers, family members and U.S. officials, but never personally toured the facility. Now it’s true that the UN members did in fact reject an invitation to visit the detention center, but McCormack has already acknowledged that even if they had accepted, they would not have been granted access to prisoners. Nevertheless, McCormack added, “just because they decided not to take up the U.S. government on the offer to go to Guantanamo Bay does not automatically give them the right to publish a report that is merely hearsay and not based on fact.”
So sometime during the last six months, the Bush administration “invited” inspectors to tour the facility, but purely on the basis of limited access—all so that the White House could dispute the authenticity of the report when it finally came out.
It should also be noted that last June UN inspectors were sitting around waiting to gain access to Guantanamo, a year after their initial “strong and urgent” request to access the facility. Calling U.S. authorities unresponsive, UN representative Paul Hunt called for an investigation to “check the accuracy of … other allegations concerning the health of detainees …. to see the conditions for myself, to talk privately with detainees and to discuss on site with medical staff and others….So I’m extremely disappointed that despite waiting for 18 months, and despite several requests, the authorities have not seen fit to grant permission to visit Guantánamo Bay.”