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Senators debate what to do with Gitmo prisoners



Published: Thu, June 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some say that new limits should be enacted on their treatment in the facility.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Senators considered imposing new limits on the treatment of so-called enemy combatants Wednesday as the Bush administration defended the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In an often-confrontational hearing, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled administration officials on the status of some 520 prisoners, mostly from the war in Afghanistan, being held at the military prison on a U.S.-occupied sliver of Cuba.

Lawmakers clashed sharply, with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., calling the offshore prison compound "an international embarrassment," while Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said some of the detainees should be executed.

The hearings marked the latest effort on Capitol Hill to deal with prisoners classified as enemy combatants, a category created by the Bush administration to describe accused terrorists and members of the Al-Qaida organization. The administration has cited that classification to justify holding the detainees outside of the Geneva Convention.

Although no specific legislation has been offered, some members of the Judiciary Committee suggested that Congress could consider measures such as limiting the amount of time courts are given to handle detainee cases.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that detainees at Guantanamo should have access to federal courts.

"The only unifying factor coming out of the multitude of opinions by the Supreme Court of the United States was that it's really the job of the Congress. And I think they made a pretty good case for that," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.




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