WASHINGTON – Afghan detainees being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are contributing valuable information in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks and other acts of terrorism, Rep. Saxby Chambliss said Tuesday.
Chambliss, the chairman of a House Intelligence panel that oversees homeland security issues, led a seven-member congressional delegation to the Guantanamo Bay base Tuesday and made the comments upon his return. Some 300 suspected fighters of the al-Qaida terrorist network and fallen Taliban regime are being held for questioning.
"These are the really bad guys, who have been brought over here for purpose of interrogating to find out how much information they know about Sept. 11 and other incidents," Chambliss said. "I came away with a good feeling about the work the interrogation process is doing."
Last Thursday, 194 of the detainees reportedly were refusing to eat as a protest. Chambliss said only about 20 were continuing with the hunger strike Tuesday, crediting a Muslim Army chaplain who has been talking with the the detainees.
The lawmakers met with many of the Americans guarding the prison and took a brief tour of the facilities. Although the purpose of the trip wasn't to assess the conditions, which have drawn the wrath of some human rights groups, Chambliss said the facilities were adequate.
"We're obligated to treat them in a humane manner, feed them, clothe them and provide them with adequate shelter," Chambliss said. "We're not obligated to bend the rules for their benefit."
Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said the group toured many parts of the prison from food facilities to shower rooms and found everything was in compliance with international law.
"This is a very hot climate, but they are under cover in the sense that they have a roof over their head," LaHood said. "They certainly have no reason to complain about the conditions there."