[JURIST] A US Department of Defense [official website] official Wednesday defended the government's decision [JURIST report] in October to refuse access by UN investigators to detainees being held at the US prison base in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], and reiterated that the operation of the facility is critical to information gathering in the war on terror. Brian Del Monte, deputy director of the Office of Detainee Policy, said that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] is the only external organization that is given clearance to visit the detainees, according to a mandate by the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials]. A UN report [PDF text; JURIST report] released last month alleges prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, but UN investigators never actually met with detainees and declined the Pentagon's invitation to tour the facility because they would not have been given access to interview those held there.
In a panel discussion [event details; recorded video] with Del Monte at the Heritage Foundation, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] advocacy director Jennifer Daskal asked why UN investigators were denied meetings with detainees if "there's nothing to hide," and questioned why so many individuals who reportedly have limited information to offer [National Journal report] are still being held. Del Monte responded that the National Journal report was based on a small sample of evidence taken from Guantanamo and that suspects like those being held are trained to lie about their level of involvement in terrorist activities. CNSNews has more.