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Homeland Security

Washington Defends Guantanamo After Criticism From Britain

11 May 2006

The United States has defended its detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after Britain's attorney general called for its closure.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack on Wednesday said the U.S. would like to close Guantanamo at "some point in the future," but the facility houses dangerous people who could commit terrorist acts if they are released.

Earlier Wednesday, Britain's Attorney General, Peter Goldsmith, called Guantanamo's existence "unacceptable" and a symbol of injustice.

The United States is holding about 480 detainees in Guantanamo on suspicion of involvement in terrorism or fighting for the Taleban in Afghanistan.

In an interview Sunday, President Bush said he would like to close the facility, which opened in 2002, but he is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the Guantanamo detainees should appear before a civilian or military court.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on whether military tribunals of foreign terror suspects can proceed. The Bush administration is arguing that the president had the authority to set up such tribunals.

Only 10 detainees have been charged with crimes. Human rights groups have called for the detainees to be charged or released.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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