File photo of US Marines escorting a new detainee at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba
Marc Serota  /  Reuters
Marines escort a new detainee before questioning at Camp X-Ray in the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in this Feb. 10, 2002 file photo.
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/13/2005 11:57:06 AM ET 2005-06-13T15:57:06

Vice President Dick Cheney says there are no present plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay where terrorism suspects are held, despite a growing chorus of calls — including one from a Republican lawmaker — to do so.

“The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people,” he said.

“I mean, these are terrorists for the most part. These are people that were captured in the battlefield of Afghanistan or rounded up as part of the al-Qaida network,” he said in an interview to be aired Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.”

Human rights activists and some lawmakers — mostly Democrats — are pressing for the prison’s closure because of allegations of torture and abuse of prisoners.

‘I think they're divided’
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that the White House is split over whether to close the site, as a magazine reported that a top al-Qaida suspect interrogated there was made to bark like a dog and kept awake with pop music by Christina Aguilera.

Some Bush administration officials want to close the facility to end a debate over allegations of prisoner abuse, Hunter told "Fox News Sunday."

The military detention camp for terrorism suspects has been criticized as a modern "gulag" by Amnesty International, and it has become a hated symbol for many Muslims.

"I think they're divided. I think ... some members of the White House have come to the conclusion that the legend is different than the fact," said Hunter, a California Republican.

"And when that's the case, you go with the legend that somehow Guantanamo has been a place of abuse. And you close it down and you shorten the stories, you shorten the heated debate and you get if off the table and you move on," he said.

'Valuable information'
A classified log detailing the interrogation of Mohammad al-Kahtani, suspected to have been an intended Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker, was published by Time magazine Sunday and gave new details of interrogation methods at the camp.

The Pentagon said Kahtani's interrogation was conducted by "trained professionals," and yielded "valuable information" about al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

After former President Jimmy Carter and others called for the camp's closure, President Bush said last week he was "exploring all alternatives." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, said he knew of no one in the administration who was thinking of closing Guantanamo.

A White House spokesman, asked about Hunter's comments, said, "We should never limit our options."

Barking, no prayer, Aguilera
Techniques used against Kahtani included inflicting a "sissy slap" with an inflated latex glove, forcing him to "bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog," and rejecting his request to pray, Time said, citing the log.

Interrogators also played music by Christina Aguilera to keep him from dozing off, Time reported.

Kahtani, a Saudi citizen, is suspected to have been an intended fifth member of the team that hijacked United Airlines flight 93 on Sept. 11, the Pentagon said in a statement. He was denied U.S. entry in August 2001, and was captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2002.

The Pentagon described the document in Time as a "compromised classified interrogation log," and said it had notified appropriate congressional committees.

Kahtani gave interrogators information on bin Laden's health and methods of evading capture, and on al-Qaida's infiltration routes, the Pentagon said. He also gave information on convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and suspected "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla, and about 30 of bin Laden's bodyguards held at Guantanamo, it said.

The log spanned 50 days in the winter of 2002 and 2003.

Time said water was poured on Kahtani's head to keep him awake in midnight sessions. He also was questioned in a room decorated with pictures of Sept. 11 victims, was made to urinate in his pants, and forced to wear pictures of scantily clad women around his neck.

He once asked to commit suicide, and was connected to a heart monitor after he became seriously dehydrated from refusing to drink water and his heartbeat slowed, the magazine said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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