WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Congress on Tuesday for failing to close the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but ducked the question of whether a damning new report on the facility gives momentum to the effort to shut it down.
A detailed analysis by the bipartisan Constitution Project found it was "indisputable" that the United States had considered and carried out torture on Guantanamo prisoners:
Perhaps the most important or notable finding of this panel is that it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture.
This finding, offered without reservation, is not based on any impressionistic approach to the issue. No member of the Task Force made this decision because the techniques "seemed like torture to me," or "I would regard that as torture."
Instead, this conclusion is grounded in a thorough and detailed examination of what constitutes torture in many contexts, notably historical and legal. The Task Force examined court cases in which torture was deemed to have occurred both inside and outside the country and, tellingly, in instances in which the United States has leveled the charge of torture against other governments. The United States may not declare a nation guilty of engaging in torture and then exempt itself from being so labeled for similar if not identical conduct.
Asked about the report, Reid coughed and then agreed with President Barack Obama's assessment that Congress has kept the facility open.
"The president stated that the reason Guantanamo has not closed was because of Congress. That's true," Reid said, ending his press conference.
Reid himself argued in 2009 that "Guantanamo makes us less safe." But he also led the Senate that year in rejecting the $80 million Obama requested to close the prison where people are being indefinitely detained. He declared at the time, "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States."
The detainees, some of whom are now protesting their imprisonment with a hunger strike, have languished at Guantanamo for more than a decade in many cases.