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Thursday, April 20, 2006 

Huckabee to visit Guantanamo Bay

BOSTON (AP) _ Gov. MittRomney and Arkansas Gov. MikeHuckabee plan on Friday to visit the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, where they'll tour the detention center, attend an intelligence briefing and meet with Defense Department officials, Romney's spokesman and DOD officials said.

Romney, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is weighing a run for president in 2008. Huckabee, chairman of the National Governors Association, has been raising money for GOP hopefuls through a political action committee and also said he's considering a run for president.

The trip is an opportunity for the men to see firsthand how the prison is run and to share ideas from their experiences with their own state systems, said Eric Ferhnstrom, Romney's spokesman.

A Pentagon spokesman said state officials regularly visit the base on fact-finding missions and to give input.

Romney's chief of staff Beth Myers and Massachusetts Correction Commissioner Kathleen M. Dennehy also plan to go.

The group will attend an intelligence briefing, tour the detention and health facilities and possibly lunch with home-state troops stationed there.

Roughly 500 detainees, accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or al-Qaida, are being held at the prison in Cuba. Most were taken in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The U.S. government has been criticized for the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It has denied any abuse there. The United Nations recently urged the White House to shut down the detention center. President Bush rejected the idea.

Romney and Huckabee recently were together in Memphis, Tenn., at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. In a presidential straw poll conducted there, Romney came in second with 14 percent and Huckabee came in sixth with four percent. Sen. BillFrist, R-Tenn., came in first with 37 percent. (By BROOKE DONALD Associated Press Writer)

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