U.S. Says Assaults Down at Guantanamo

Assaults on guards at Guantanamo Bay dropped by more than 60 percent since last year as the prison tightened security and released dozens of inmates, but "mass disturbances" nearly doubled, the U.S. military said in a new report.

U.S. Says Assaults Down at Guantanamo
A one-page report, titled "Danger Inside the Wire," said 385 such disturbances occurred among detainees in the first six months of 2007, compared with 201 in the same period a year earlier.

Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush said the figure includes assaults or "other acts" involving at least three detainees that were intended to disrupt operations at the detention center, where about 355 men remain held without charges on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Bush declined to explain what other acts the military considers to be a mass disturbance. In the past, detainees have staged protests such as shouting and banging on their cell doors for hours at a time.

Several attorneys who represent detainees said they suspect the military's definition is overly broad.

"Perhaps any collective action is the basis for what they call a mass disturbance or there is just something going on that nobody knows about," said David Remes, a Washington attorney who visited clients at Guantanamo in August.

The report recorded sharp decreases in 10 of 11 categories of disciplinary infractions in the first six months of 2007, compared with the same period a year earlier. The number of "forced cell extractions" fell by more than a third as did the number of cases of "assault with bodily fluids." The military provided a copy of the report to The Associated Press.

It said assaults on guards dropped from 180 to 70; attempted assaults declined from 120 to 26; dangerous contraband incidents fell from 51 to 14; and acts of "self harm," went from eight to six.

While the number of reported attacks dropped, the detainees still are dangerous, military officials said.

They "continue to wage war by employing various tactics ... to either harm the guard force or bring international attention upon themselves in order to obtain release and return to the fight," Army Col. Bruce Vargo, the commander of the Joint Detention Group at Guantanamo, told AP in an e-mail.

Military officials have described Guantanamo as relatively calm, compared with 2006, when three suicides and a riot prompted a security overhaul that included shifting dozens of the "most compliant" detainees out of a unit where they had been allowed to live in a communal setting.

The military has released about 100 prisoners in the past year. Most of the remaining detainees are held in solitary confinement in solid-wall cells for all but two hours a day. Advocates say the conditions at the naval base in southeastern Cuba are too harsh.

Associated Press
Last Mod: 01 Eylül 2007, 15:09
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