Gitmo: harsh conditions, hunger strike reported

Defense lawyers for detainees held at Guantánamo Bay and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sent a letter (PDF) to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr.  describing harsh conditions faced by the detainees and indicated that the detainees have begun to protest the conditions, including participating in a hunger strike. The letter alleged that “camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause.”

They further allege that searches of their Korans have been conducted in a desecrating manner. As a result of these and other practices, the detainees have begun to protest, including through a hunger strike which is in its third week. The letter indicates that some of the detainees are suffering health consequences as a result of the protests. The lawyers called on Smith, the commanding officer of the facility, to address the concerns listed and to respond with a description of the policy changes. The lawyers learned of these practices and protests after being permitted to visit the detention center by a judge in February.

From Jurst, March 7. Used with permission.

  1. Guantánamo prison expansion planned

    Seems like a loooong time ago that Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo, doesn't it? From the NY Times' At War blog, March 21:

    WASHINGTON – The United States Southern Command has requested $49 million to build a new prison building at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for "special" detainees on top of other renovations it says are necessary since Congress has decided to keep it open indefinitely. That brings the potential taxpayer bill for upgrading the deteriorating facilities to an estimated $195.7 million, the military said on Thursday.

    That overall price tag is significantly higher than the estimate of $150 million to $170 million that General John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, gave in Congressional testimony on Wednesday. The special detainee facility was not included on the list of requested construction projects released by Southcom on Wednesday when reporters asked for details.

    The project appears to be a proposed replacement for Camp 7, where so-called high-value detainees who were formerly held by the Central Intelligence Agency—like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the [9-11] attacks—are housed. While the existence of Camp 7 is widely known, the military generally refuses to discuss it.