The Bush administration distanced itself on Monday from comments by a State Department official that the suicides of three prisoners at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were a “good P.R. move.”

The official, Colleen P. Graffy, deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, made the comments in an interview on the British Broadcasting Corporation program “Newshour” on Sunday, a day after two Saudis and a Yemeni hanged themselves in their cells.

“Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good P.R. move,” Ms. Graffy said. “It does sound like this is part of a strategy — in that they don’t value their own lives, and they certainly don’t value ours; and they use suicide bombings as a tactic.”

But the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, told reporters at the department’s daily briefing on Monday, “I would just point out in public that we would not say that it was a P.R. stunt.”


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