US President George W. Bush on Wednesday left open the possibility of closing the US detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba, following mounting criticism from around the world for the mistreatment of prisoners there.
"We're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the mainobjective, which is to protect America," Bush told Fox News in an interview. "What we don't want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us."
Calls for the closure of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/03/13/26961.html ' target=_blank>Guantanamo prison have risen over the past few days after reports of prisoner abuse and even possible Koran desecration grabbed world's attention.
Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, is among those who first raised the idea of closing the Guantanamo prison. He declared the detention camp "the greatest propaganda tool that exists for the recruiting of terrorists around the world."
Former US President Jimmy Carter said at a human rights conference Tuesday that closing the prison would demonstrate the US commitment to human rights at a time when Washington's reputation has suffered because of reports of prisoner abuses, reports Ximhuanet.
According to Reuters, calls for closure of the prison camp for foreign terrorism suspects at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba have risen over the past few days after Amnesty International set off a furor last month by calling it a "gulag" and comparing it to the brutal Soviet system of forced labor camps in which millions died.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, added her voice to the criticism on Wednesday by supporting those calling for the closure of the detention camp, including Carter and Sen. Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/98/387/12209_.html ' target=_blank>Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The prison camp has been dogged by allegations of abuse since it was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon this week ruled out closing Guantanamo.
But adding to the controversy was the disclosure last week that American guards or interrogators at Guantanamo had mishandled the Koran, Islam's holy book, by stepping on it and soaking it in water.