Published June 30, 2005
WASHINGTON – The general who runs the terrorism detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba told a House panel Wednesday that military interrogators have gained valuable information about Al Qaeda from detainees, and that they should continue to be held indefinitely.
And as for suggestions the facility should be closed, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee put that idea to rest.
Click in the box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Molly Henneberg.
After visiting Guantanamo Bay (search) over the weekend with 15 other lawmakers, Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told the hearing that Gitmo is not a "gulag" and will stay open.
"We saw a world class detention facility where detainees representing a threat to our national security are well fed, given access to top-notch medical facilities and provided an opportunity to obtain legal representation," Hunter said.
"I was particularly impressed and I'm one of those, I inspect every little detail, the cleanliness of the facility and the treatment of the prisoner," said Del. Madeleine Bordallo (search), the non-voting representative from Guam.
Still, committee members pressed officials about allegations that detainees were abused or that U.S. guards mishandled the Koran.
Brig. Gen. Jay Hood (search), who is in charge of running the camp, said 10 servicemembers had been punished for misconduct, out of 10,000 men and women who have served at Gitmo, where more than 28,000 interrogations have taken place.
He added that detail at Gitmo is not easy duty.
"It's not unusual through the course of a day or a week at Gitmo for some young American to have urine or feces or spit or some other liquid thrown at him by a detainee. It's not unusual for a detainee to look at an American and tell them that when they get out of here, 'I'll kill you and your family, I'll find you,'" Hood said.
Lawmakers still questioned officials about reports in the New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times, which said that doctors at the detention facility were providing medical information to interrogators to help get detainees to talk.
The top doctor at Gitmo said that's just not true.
"Interrogators are not allowed into the medical facilities where we store the medical files. We do not go into the interrogation centers except for an emergency," Cmdr. Cary Ostergaard said.
Abdullah Massood (search) drew particular attention and anger at the hearing. He was released from Gitmo last year and returned to fight against Americans in Afghanistan (search). While in prison, doctors gave him a prosthetic leg.
"He came to us without one leg from about the knee down, we fitted him with a prosthetic leg before he left while in U.S. custody," Hood said.
Hunter rhetorically and sarcastically asked whether Massood had let U.S. soldiers know how well the leg had worked while he was on the battlefield.
Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher (search), D-Calif., said Wednesday's hearing was not balanced because a lawyer for the detainees did not testify. Republicans had scheduled that lawyer to appear before the committee later in the day.