Saturday, March 17, 2007

Senators say U.S. should examine detainee treatment

Senators say U.S. should examine detainee treatment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. senators who observed the military hearing of an Al Qaeda suspect at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said on Friday the man's allegations of mistreatment should be investigated.

"To do otherwise would reflect poorly on our nation," said Sens. Carl Levin and Lindsey Graham in a statement.

The suspect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claimed responsibility during the hearing for the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon, as well as direct involvement in other attacks and plots.

The tribunal "was presented with a written statement from (Mohammed) alleging mistreatment during his captivity prior to arriving at Guantanamo," said the senators.

"Allegations of prisoner mistreatment must be taken seriously and properly investigated."

A Pakistani national, Mohammed is among 14 prisoners identified by U.S. authorities as "high-value" terrorism suspects and transferred to Guantanamo last year from secret CIA prisons abroad.

Levin and Graham said they watched the proceeding on closed circuit television in a room adjoining the hearing site. The hearing was held on March 10 to determine whether Mohammed meets the U.S. definition of an enemy combatant.

Levin, a Michigan Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is a committee member.

The president of the three-member military panel has said Mohammed's statement would be reported for "any investigation that may be appropriate."