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Key senators view Gitmo disturbance tapes


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Senate
Iraq
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)
Patrick Leahy

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Video of U.S. forces quelling disturbances at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility were shown to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, had requested in May to see the videos after a British newspaper reported on the existence of such material at the U.S. naval facility where suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members or collaborators are being held.

According to Leahy's office, Gen. Jay Hood -- the commander of the Guantanamo facility -- brought DVDs to a meeting with Leahy and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Hood and his staff separately briefed the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

Leahy, D-Vermont, said he appreciated the briefing, but he expressed disappointment that members were "able to review only a few of the videotapes" and that the Pentagon is not making any of the material public.

He said the Defense Department reviewed and catalogued hundreds of videotapes from the past two years at the facility known as "Gitmo."

No Abu Ghraib-type abuse seen

A Leahy spokesman said the videos showed an initial reaction force called out to quell disturbances.

Leahy said there was nothing on the videos shown Wednesday to indicate abuses such as those at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison where prisoners were forced into humiliating positions, often naked.

"Based on the staff's review of a small number of the videos, it does not appear that prisoners at Guantanamo were subjected to the types of egregious abuses that occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or at Baghram detention facility in Afghanistan," Leahy said in a written statement.

"Questions remain, however, about the IRF [initial reaction force] and other techniques used during the past two years."

He added, "As we try to fill in the bigger picture in the prison abuse scandal, it also is mystifying why the Department of Defense's procedures for the treatment of detainees vary so dramatically from one facility to another. Why were the procedures and oversight that were designed to prevent abuses at Guantanamo not used at Abu Ghraib and Baghram, where the cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners was routine?

"We will continue to work toward answers to these and other questions."

In May, The Observer reported that dozens of videotapes existed in which American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks against Gitmo detainees.

The paper said it learned of the material from Tarek Dergoul, a British prisoner at the facility who was freed in March.


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