Tags: Terrorist | Detainees | Have | Easy

Terrorist Detainees Have It Easy

Monday, 21 January 2002 12:00 AM

A description of their schedules and accommodations has been issued by the Defense Department to blunt left-wing criticism of the detention of at least 144 prisoners. Their legal status remains in limbo.

The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles will hear a case today filed by self-described "civil rights" activists who want the terrorists to be brought into open court and formally charged as soon as possible.

The case could result in a court ruling on whether the detainees are prisoners of war or criminal suspects loyal to a terrorist network rather than a recognized government.

"We have a just criminal system in the United States, and people do get treated right. And I think that any suggestion to the contrary is basically coming from people who are not well-informed,'' Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday.

The distinction could help determine whether the suspects are placed in the U.S. criminal justice system or if they will face an undefined military tribunal system that was to be established after the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

"These individuals were brought out of their country in shackles, drugged, gagged and blindfolded, and are being held in open-air cages in Cuba," University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky told the Los Angeles Times. "Someone should be asserting their rights under international law."

Chemerinsky is one of a group of lawyers, clergy members and law professors who were behind the request for a writ of habeas corpus that was filed with the federal court in Los Angeles by attorney Stephen Yagman.

The petition is the first formal challenge to U.S. detention of terrorists captured in Afghanistan.

British officials who visited the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay over the weekend said the prisoners are being treated well, Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw told the House of Commons Monday.

"None complained of any ill treatment. None said they had any medical condition requiring treatment," Bradshaw said.

More than 100 prisoners remain at a military detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan. They are being transferred in small, heavily guarded groups to the newly-built temporary jail at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

They are shaved and deloused "for hygiene reasons" before being loaded onto C-17s for the 27-hour trip to Cuba, a flight that includes a flight surgeon in the event of a medical emergency, according to U.S. Southern Command. Some Muslims have complained about the shaving of the terrorists, but as many Americans have noted, the Sept. 11 hijackers shaved themselves to draw less attention during their terrorism.

At least one of the prisoners, many of whom have vowed to kill their American captors, was sedated on the first trip. All were dressed in orange jumpsuits and hoods and were chained to their seats for the flight. They were not allowed to use the toilet on the plane.

Once at the camp, the prisoners, who generally arrive in groups of 30, meet with a doctor. The doctor takes a chest X-ray and blood samples and gives a basic physical exam.

A dietician approves a "medically appropriate" diet for each detainee. Most, if not all, are observant Muslims.

As analysts on Fox News Channel have pointed out, the terrorists are living it up compared to living in caves in Afghanistan.

A typical breakfast includes a bagel, cream cheese, an orange, bread and a bottle of water. Lunch can include a pasta and vegetable stew, dry cereal, a box of raisins, two granola bars, a bag of chips, a bag of peanuts and a bottle of water. A typical dinner would include white rice, red beans, a banana, bread and a bottle of water.

The chain-link and barbed-wire cells are eight-feet by eight feet with a cement floor. They have a combination wood and metal roof but the sides are open.

Each prisoner has a foam sleeping mat, a toothbrush modified so it cannot be turned into a weapon; two buckets, a washcloth, a one-quart canteen, soap, shampoo and toothpaste, two towels (one to use as a prayer blanket), an orange jumpsuit, shower shoes, a blanket, and a copy of the Koran if they are available, according to U.S. Southern Command.

The Islamic call to prayer is broadcast over the camp's public address system, according to CNN.

Detainees also get writing paper, but pencils, potential weapons, are provided only under direct supervision and are collected immediately after use.

The prisoners are shackled, blindfolded and made to wear surgical masks while they are being moved to ensure prisoners cannot hatch a plot or pick up information about U.S. forces simply by watching, according to CNN.

A four-person team from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived at Guantanamo Bay Jan. 17 and will interview every prisoner privately. ICRC, empowered by the Geneva Convention to advocate for prisoners of war and political detainees, will make confidential recommendations on their treatment and conditions to the base commander. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A description of their schedules and accommodations has been issued by the Defense Department to blunt left-wing criticism of the detention of at least 144 prisoners. Their legal status remains in limbo. The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles will hear a case today filed...
Monday, 21 January 2002 12:00 AM
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