Holder To Assess Facility During Guantanamo Trip

Attorney General Eric Holder embarked on a trip to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba today to tour the facilities.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen. Coming up, one of the scariest jobs on the planet: diffusing homemade explosives in Iraq. An interview with an expert bomb-disposal operative; that's in just a few minutes.

BRAND: But first, some big news from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, this morning: Attorney General Eric Holder tours the prison camp today, just as one of the detainees left after spending years there. NPR's Ari Shapiro has more.

ARI SHAPIRO: There are more than 200 detainees at Guantanamo Bay right now. The Obama administration is reviewing every case. They want to see who can be put on trial, who can be sent to another country for detention and who can be released. Attorney General Eric Holder is leading that effort, and Holder arrived at Guantanamo Bay this morning. It's a one-day visit, his first trip as attorney general, and he did not take any reporters with him.

As Attorney General Holder was preparing to take a U.S. government flight down to Guantanamo, another man left the island on a British aircraft bound for England. Binyam Mohamed is the first detainee to be transferred under the Obama administration. He's Ethiopian, but he used to be a resident of Britain. He was arrested in Pakistan seven years ago, and he's been in Guantanamo since 2004. Mohamed says before the U.S. sent him to Guantanamo, the CIA tortured him at a prison in Morocco. He claims interrogators hung him by his wrists for hours and cut him with a scalpel. He says the CIA and British intelligence officials knew he was being abused. Neither government will confirm that, and Morocco denies ever having held him.

Documents describing Mohamed's treatment are under seal. Earlier this month, a British judge refused to unseal the information. British government lawyers argued that if the documents became public, the U.S. would stop sharing some intelligence information with Britain. Justice Department prosecutors first filed civilian charges against Mohamed. They accused him of being part of a dirty-bomb plot. They later dropped those charges. The Pentagon then charged him with war crimes, but it, too, dropped those charges. Mohamed's case has received a lot of scrutiny in Great Britain, and that scrutiny may increase now that he's back in England. The Justice Department says Mohamed's plane took off last night and landed in UK this morning. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.

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