Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey Tours Gitmo

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 07:15 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, toured the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay including two of its prison buildings where foreign suspected terrorists are held, Stars and Stripes reported.

Dempsey visited Camps 5 and 6 where most of Guantanamo’s 155 prisoners are incarcerated. Camp 6 is a medium-security facility while Camp 5 is for maximum-security detainees. There is also a Camp 7, the most secure facility, where CIA prisoners are held and which Dempsey did not visit.

The general spent about an hour of his three hours on the island, touring the prison, part of "a familiarization tour to provide the chairman a richer understanding of the operations and our personnel serving there," according to his spokesman, Air Force Col. Edward Thomas.

Dressed in military fatigues, Dempsey's name was taped over for the prison tour, according to Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, who monitors events at Guantanamo.

One Defense Department photo showed a restraint chair used to force-feed hunger striking inmates. A federal court of appeals has declined to halt forced-feedings. It is not known whether any of the Guantanamo prisoners are currently on hunger strike.

The use of the base since 9/11 as a high security prison for foreign suspected terrorists, including construction and operating expenses, has cost some $5 billion, Thomas said.

Dempsey sits on the Periodic Review Board for Guantanamo detainees which was established by President Barack Obama to review the cases of about 70 of the inmates to determine whether any can be released abroad.

The Obama administration has sought to close down the prison without success because of legal and political stumbling blocks in finding an alternate detention location. There are 77 prisoners, many from Yemen, on the island that could be released if a place could be found for them, Breitbart reported.

Dempsey, the highest ranking U.S. military officer, is the first chief to have visited the base in six years. Accompanied by his wife, Deanie, they met with service members assigned to the 45-square-mile facility at the southeastern end of Cuba.

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