|NMU||CUBA||Newsgathering||May 2, 2002|
U.S. military transfers Guantanamo detainees without media scrutiny
- Citing security concerns, Pentagon forbade press coverage of the movement of hundreds of war detainees from a makeshift prison to a new, $16.4 million building.
The U.S. military at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba recently finished transferring several hundred detainees from the war in Afghanistan from a makeshift prison to a new $16.4 million building without allowing journalists to observe.
The Pentagon defended the unobserved trek from Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta, citing security concerns. On May 1, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the movement was complete.
The military has repeatedly denied media requests to watch the movement of some 300 suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters between the former detention center to Camp Delta, the new prison near the Cuban coast.
“The policy is that we will not comment on the movement of detainees — period — until any movement has taken place,” Army spokesman Maj. Lee Reynolds told reporters on April 26. The Associated Press reported that Reynolds and other military officers declined to elaborate.
Despite the ban on covering the transfer, the military allowed limited coverage of the construction of Camp Delta. Reports say the new camp gives the detainees metal beds with mats, flush toilets, wash basins and exercise areas. Camp X-Ray offered detainees foam cushions, concrete floors and armed escorts to portable toilets and showers.
Camp Delta presently includes 408 prison cells but could be expanded to have more than 2,000.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press