A Pentagon report requested by President Obama on the conditions at the Guantánamo Bay detention center concludes that the prison complies with the humanitarian requirements of the Geneva conventions, but it makes many recommendations for increasing human contact among the prisoners, according to two government officials who have read portions of it.The request, made as part of a plan to close the center within a year, was widely seen as an effort by the new administration to defuse the power of allegations during the Bush administration that there were widespread abuses at Guantánamo, and that many detainees were suffering severe psychological effects after years of isolation.The review, conducted by Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations, describes a series of steps that could be taken to allow detainees to speak to one another more often and to engage in group activities, the government officials said. For years, critics of the prison have said that many detainees spend as many as 23 hours a day within the confines of cement cells and were only permitted recreation alone in fenced-off outdoor pens.
The report, which Admiral Walsh is scheduled to discuss publicly at the Pentagon next week, is being presented to a White House that some government officials have described as caught off guard by the extreme emotions and political cross-currents provoked by Guantánamo. Some critics said that the report’s conclusions are likely to intensify the debate about the prison, and put the Obama White House for the first time in the position of defending it.One Pentagon official, speaking anonymously because no one had been authorized to discuss the report publicly, said it showed that the Bush administration created a humane detention camp that has been unfairly characterized by critics. Speaking of the remaining 245 detainees there, this official said the report underscored that if the men are moved, they may “go from a humane environment to a less humane environment.”