Gitmo General Speaks Out About Closure, Detainees

Wednesday, 08 Jul 2009 09:16 PM

By Jim Meyers

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The deputy commander of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay tells Newsmax that "a good number" of detainees who have been released have gone on to commit terrorist acts.

However, Brig. Gen. Rafael O'Ferrall, Deputy Commander General for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, would not say if he disagrees with President Barack Obama's plan to close down the facility by next year.

See Video: Brig. Gen. Rafael O'Ferrall, Deputy Commander General for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, discusses watching over some of the world’s worst terrorists - Click Here Now

Referring to earlier media reports of harsh interrogation techniques used on some terrorist suspects, Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter asked the general how interrogations are handled now at Guantanamo.

"Interrogations are basically what you and I are doing now," he responded. "It's a conversation."

The difference, he said, is that the detainees can have "some special food that they might want" during questioning.

"They have their milkshakes . . . or a big meal. So that's the way we do intelligence collection. We are doing it in a humane, safe, and legal manner."

Asked if Americans should be concerned about the possible transfer of Guantanamo detainees to prisons in the U.S., O'Ferrall — who assumed his present position last December — would say only "that is something that is out of my command right now."

He also declined to give a direct answer when asked if agreed with Obama's plan to close down the Guantanamo by January, saying "that's another area of expertise" and "I don't have the potential to say yes or no."

But he did say that as an officer, he would carry out any order issued by his commander in chief.

Asked if any of the 520 detainees released from Guantanamo so far have committed terrorist acts, O'Ferrall told Newsmax: "We have known of several. The exact number I cannot tell, but yes, there's a good number that have been recidivists in the war on terror."

O'Ferrall also said some detainees cannot be returned to their native countries for fear they will be suspected of revealing sensitive information during their interrogations, and "we have the responsibility to make sure they are well treated wherever they go."

Some detainees get "hyper. They do their protests. They go on hunger strikes," the general said.

"When we are releasing them, that is when they get the opportunity to assault our guards with — we call them body fluids. They throw it at the guards. They hit them. They spit at them and do all kinds of things."

But morale among the troops at Guantanamo remains high, even though they work a grueling schedule consisting of 12-hour shifts, four days on, two days off, according to O'Ferrall.

"It's difficult for my young troops and service members," he said, adding that the soldiers are "unbelievable" and are "people we should be very proud of in America."

See Video: Brig. Gen. Rafael O'Ferrall, Deputy Commander General for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, discusses watching over some of the world’s worst terrorists - Click Here Now

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