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U.S. Officials On Guantanamo

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the United States would like to reduce the number of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But Ms. Rice said the U.S. does not want to act too hastily and let people go who may be terrorists:

"We do not want to be the world's jailers. But I would ask people to answer the following question: then what do we do with the hundreds of dangerous people there, who were caught on the battlefield, who are known to have connections, who regularly say that if they are released, they are going to go back to killing Americans? Do you really want those people on the streets?"

State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger said that detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo is consistent with U.S. obligations under international law and does not, as some have said, constitute torture. Mr. Bellinger said critics have overlooked remedial steps taken by the United States:

"In general, we think they have not acknowledged the substantial changes that have taken place both in our laws, in our procedures, in the conditions at Guantanamo, in training and oversight that have occurred over a four-year period of time."

Secretary of State Rice says the U.S. has released hundreds of terrorist combatants from Guantanamo into the custody of their own governments after being assured that they will not be mistreated and will be properly monitored so that they cannot engage in armed attacks again.

President George W. Bush said that he would like to close the Guantanamo facility. But he said that he is awaiting a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether its inmates can be tried as "enemy combatants" by military courts rather than tried in civilian courts. In the meantime, U.S. officials say, the Guantanamo inmates are being treated humanely.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.