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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Some at Guantanamo Could Be Sent Home

January 26, 2002|From Associated Press

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Some of the Afghan war detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay could be returned to their homelands after interrogations and face military tribunals there, a U.S. senator said Friday.

The 158 detainees come from 25 countries, Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert told reporters without identifying the nations. Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma said he did not think more than 15% were from Afghanistan. Previously, officials said detainees at this U.S. military outpost were from 10 countries.

"I think in the interrogation process we're going to find that some of them will be legitimately sent back to their countries," Inhofe said of the Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Inhofe's spokesman, Jared Young, later said that the senator stressed that sending the detainees home was a possibility that the Bush administration is considering and no decisions have been made.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he favored military tribunals to handle the prisoners' cases.

"We certainly do not need to create a federal court spectacle for all these cases," he said.

He said the Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Camp X-ray were not being mistreated and were being given adequate food and medical care.

Inhofe and Sessions were part of a delegation of 17 representatives and three senators who visited the detention center Friday.

The U.S. delegation was driven on white buses into Camp X-ray, which is fortified by three layers of fences topped by razor wire and patrolled by attack dogs.

"Nothing was hidden from us," said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.).

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