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2 guards punished at detainee facility

SAN JUAN -- Promising a broader investigation, the US military acknowledged yesterday that two guards at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had been disciplined over allegations of prisoner abuse.

Air Force Captain Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman at Southern Command in Miami, also said a third US guard faced abuse allegations but was cleared of wrongdoing.

The two guards were given administrative punishments, which often range from letters of reprimand to base restrictions, Arellano said.

She said it was not clear what type of abuse allegedly occurred or whether any of the three guards were still at Guantanamo, where some 600 detainees are being held on alleged links to Afghanistan's former Taliban regime or the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Military officials were still investigating the three cases, which had not been submitted to a court, and whether any other complaints of prisoner abuse had been made.

The revelations came as Guantanamo's former commander, Army Major General Geoffrey Miller, apologized yesterday for the "illegal or unauthorized acts" committed by US soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Miller has taken charge of US prisons in Iraq. He was the commander of Guantanamo from October 2002 to March 2004 and has said he was able to increase the amount of valuable intelligence tips gleaned from detainees during interrogations.

The hard-nosed general attributed the success to a system of rewards given to detainees and said officials were working to make the detainees' incarceration more comfortable.

When the first batch of detainees arrived at the prison camp in eastern Cuba in 2001, there was widespread anger over pictures of the detainees hooded, shackled, and kneeling outside of the chain-link cells of Camp X-ray, a temporary open-air prison that has since been replaced by the sprawling Camp Delta, which has more than 1,000 cells.

Criticism from human rights groups lessened when the detainees were moved into their permanent cells but spiked again after a rash of suicide attempts. There have been at least 34 suicide attempts since the mission began in January 2001.

In its strongest public rebuke, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in October it found "a worrying deterioration" in mental health among many prisoners.

Some Afghan detainees recently released from Guantanamo complained that they had been subjected to sleep deprivation and not provided with Korans in their cells, but none of the allegations was as serious as those being raised in Iraq.

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