Interfaith Delegation Denied Access to Guantanamo

January 21, 2004

Source: National Council of Churches

On January 21, 2004 the reported, "The U.S. Department of Defense has denied a written request from the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) for permission to send a small interfaith delegation to visit detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay later this month. NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar made the request in a Dec. 8, 2003, letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. On Jan. 16, he received a reply from Dr. Jeffrey M. Starr, Principal Director for Special Operations Program Support in the U.S. Department of Defense, who wrote, 'Unfortunately it is not possible for your group to meet with the enemy combatants detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.' In response, Dr. Edgar said today that the NCC would 'seek a meeting with U.S. government officials to press the issue of faith leaders’ access to the Guantanamo detainees.'"