US President George Bush left open yesterday the possibility of closing the Guantánamo Bay prison, a day after his White House predecessor Jimmy Carter called for it to be shut.
“We’re exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America,” Mr Bush said when asked in an interview on Fox television if he would close the detention centre.
He added, however, that comparisons between Guantánamo and the Soviet gulag were “just absurd”. Mr Carter had told a conference in Atlanta that the prison should be shut to demonstrate the US commitment to human rights.
“Despite President George W Bush’s bold reminder that America is determined to promote freedom and democracy around the world, the US continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation as a champion of human rights because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo,” he said.
In addition to closing Guantánamo Bay and two dozen other detention facilities, Mr Carter said, the US needed to make sure all detainees were told the charges against them.
He also recommended that the US stop transferring detainees to countries where torture had been reported.