WASHINGTON – Defending the treatment of prisoners at the U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay (search), Vice President Dick Cheney said they are well-treated, well-fed and "living in the tropics."
The Bush administration has faced allegations of inmate abuse at the jail and of unjustly detaining suspects. Amnesty International (search) recently compared it to Soviet-era gulags, and Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress have questioned whether it should remain open.
President Bush (search) called Amnesty's report "absurd" last week and publicly challenged reporters to go to Guantanamo and see for themselves that detainees were being treated humanely.
Cheney on Thursday described prison conditions in more glowing terms, saying the United States spent heavily to build a new facility there.
"They're very well-treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well-fed. They've got everything they could possibly want," Cheney said in a televised interview. "There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."
Asked if the detention center should be shut down and the prisoners transferred, Cheney said "it's a vital facility" and must continue operating.
The approximately 520 remaining detainees are "terrorists. They're bomb-makers. They're facilitators of terror. They're members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban," Cheney said. "If you let them out, they'll go back to trying to kill Americans."