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Bush hints at closure of Guantanamo

Sridhar Krishnaswami

WASHINGTON: In the backdrop of mounting criticism of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, U.S. President George W Bush has hinted that the facility could close. "We're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective which is to protect America," he said in an interview. "What we don't want to do is to let somebody out that comes back and harms us."

Guantanamo Bay is seen as a symbol of excesses committed on nearly 540 detenus with the Amnesty International terming it as the "gulag of our time." A Pentagon investigation did reveal abuses .

Mr. Bush's "hint" has surprised many including Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who has brushed it aside. Officials have been quoted as saying no firm proposals are on the table and that no inter-agency meetings scheduled to discuss the proposal.

Mr. Bush's remarks were not off hand for his press secretary also used similar language during a briefing. "We're always looking at all our alternatives when it comes to dealing with these detainees," said Scott McClellan.

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