Bishops Weigh in on Guantanamo Issue

Call for ‘Careful Review’ of Prisoners’ Conditions

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The Secretary of Defense should «conduct a careful review of conditions for detainees» at Guantanamo Bay and work to release the 86 who have been cleared, said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a June 25 letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to «make good on the President’s commitment to close this facility that has become a symbol of indefinite detention without trial.»

«Detainees have the right to a just and fair trial held in a timely manner,» wrote Bishop Pates. «The indefinite detention of detainees is not only injurious to those individuals, it also wounds the moral reputation of our nation, compromises our commitment to the rule of law, and undermines our struggle against terrorism.»

Bishop Pates cited reports of forced feedings of prisoners on hunger strike as one reason for his concern. He suggested addressing «the conditions of despair that have led to this protest.»

Bishop Pates also noted the USCCB’s statement in the wake of the 9/11 attacks: «We must not only act justly but be perceived as acting justly if we are to succeed in winning popular support against terrorism.»

The letter is available online:

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