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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today, the fifth anniversary of the first delivery of detainees to the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba:
"Many Members of Congress originally supported the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo, in accordance with our commitment to deter and bring to justice terrorists who seek to harm us. Indeed, it is our highest duty to ensure our national security, to protect our homeland and to defend our people. However, we also have a duty to abide by the democratic principles - including the rule of law and respect for basic human rights - upon which this great nation was founded.
"Grave questions about our treatment of detainees at Guantánamo have been raised repeatedly over the last five years. While the Administration has brought a handful of cases to trial and secured 10 indictments to date, not one single Guantánamo detainee has been convicted of any illegal act. Of the almost 400 detainees remaining in Guantánamo, Administration officials now say only 60 to 80 will be brought to trial, and the rest presumably held indefinitely.
"Making matters worse, reports of physical and mental prisoner abuse continue to emerge from the facility. These reports have been insufficiently investigated, in my view. And, such reports, when coupled with news of 'extraordinary renditions' and CIA secret prisons, have harmed our nation's credibility and reputation. This is unacceptable, and it is dangerous.
"As the world's leading advocate for democracy, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights, the United States must demonstrate an unflinching willingness to scrutinize our own conduct - however painful that may be. In the 110th Congress, the new Democratic Majority has every intention of conducting vigorous oversight on these issues and getting answers on the Administration's detention practices. The Administration has said it hopes to close the facility at Guantánamo, an objective that I share. I encourage the international community to cooperate in repatriating detainees, so that the Administration's objective can be obtained."