The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 13, 2014

Window opens on secret camp within Guantanamo

(Continued)

A few facts have come out through government reports and court testimony. It apparently holds 15 of the 154 prisoners at Guantanamo. Those held in Camp 7 include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has portrayed himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attack and is on trial with Binalshibh. Also held there is a Saudi prisoner charged with orchestrating the deadly bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

The men are apparently held in solid-walled cells — as opposed to the cage-like structures used soon after the U.S. began using Guantanamo as a prison in 2002 — that are intended to limit their ability to communicate with each other, and they are allowed up to four hours per day of exercise, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The secret camp also is apparently falling apart.

Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of Miami-based Southern Command, told Congress that Camp 7 has become "increasingly unsustainable due to drainage and foundation issues" and needs to be replaced. But officials balked at the proposed $49 million price tag and the military scrapped the idea for a replacement and is making repairs out of existing funds, said Army Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for Southern Command, which oversees Guantanamo.

James Harrington, a lawyer for Binalshibh, said he does not believe problems with the foundation — which Julian described as "heaving and shifting" — are responsible for the vibrations and sounds that his client says keep him awake.

The judge granted all five defense teams a request to visit Camp 7 one time for up to 12 hours to inspect conditions. Because of an ongoing dispute over the rules for handling classified evidence however, only Connell, who represents defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, has been inside. He went in August, riding in the van with windows covered in heavy-duty paper and a makeshift interior barrier so he could not see the driver.

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