February 21, 2009
A Pentagon review ordered by President Barack Obama into conditions at Guantánamo Bay has concluded that prisoners are being treated in line with international standards demanded under the Geneva conventions, according to US officials.
Admiral Patrick Walsh, the vice-chief of naval operations who carried out the inquiry, is to hand over the 85-page report to Obama this weekend. Human rights groups said they feared the review ordered by Obama could turn out to be a whitewash.
The Pentagon report looked into various allegations of abuse. But Walsh’s report contains only two major recommendations for improving the prisoners’ lives: allowing them more opportunities to communicate with one another and to pray together.
Obama promised on the day of his inauguration to close the Guantánamo detention centre, which has become synonymous worldwide with human rights abuses, within a year. Since his announcement he has faced criticism, mainly from former members of the Bush administration, saying closure of the camp was not that easy. Walsh’s conclusions are basically the view espoused by the Pentagon over the last few years, which is that the international image of Guantánamo is based on the treatment and condition of prisoners when they first began to arrive seven years ago.