The US Southern Command has decided to transfer the 14 prisoners who were held in Camp 7 of the prison for accused terrorists in Guantanamo (Cuba) to Camp V, a maximum security compound built in 2004, where they will not be able to communicate with the rest of the 26 lower level inmates. In a brief communiqué, it was indicated that the transfer was made “without incident”. Now, the 40 inmates of the military prison are spread over only two compounds and guarded by 1,500 U.S. Army personnel.
Camp 7 was the most secret part of the prison, the place where the lights never go out, a place designed to hold the inmates considered most dangerous. It was President George W. Bush who requested that 13 jihadist prisoners arrested in 2006, accused of attacks in the United States, be interned in conditions that did not comply with the Geneva Convention on respect for prisoners. Among that group of terrorists was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the only one who acknowledged his role in the design of the attacks against the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Although hardly any details of Camp 7 emerged, the US press published that it was a place hidden among the arid hills of Guantanamo Bay, a 45 square kilometer plot of land controlled by the US. Inside this compound, detainees sleep in masks and endure constant noise. All their actions are monitored by cameras, even when they are in the shower.
The transfer of prisoners would have been done under the supervision of the CIA, which according to the New York Times has a say in the operations at Camp Seven thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed in 2006 by Donald Rumsfeld and Michael Hayden, the Secretary of Defense and CIA director at the time. The CIA reportedly controlled the flow of detainee information with classification, segregation, surveillance and a specially trained unit of guards called Task Force Platinum.
Brig. Gen. John G. Baker of the Marine Corps, chief counsel for the military commissions’ defense counsel, told The New York Times that “Camp 7 is in bad shape and getting worse.” The Southern Command command, which is based in Miami-Dade, directed the transfer of the prisoners this weekend, which will increase “operational efficiency and effectiveness and reduce the cost” of the prison, according to the statement. It is a “fiscally responsible” decision that does not affect “security or the mission of providing safe, legal and humane care and custody to detainees at JTF-GTMO (as the jail is known in military jargon).”
Located on the grounds of the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba, the terrorist prison was created in 2002 by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2011 attacks. Always surrounded by controversy, the prison eventually housed 800 detainees and has been the subject of investigations and allegations of inhumane treatment of inmates.
President Barak Obama (2009-2017) made the closure of the base one of his priorities and, although he did not achieve his goal, he managed to empty part of the prison by transferring a total of 196 detainees to third countries.
As of today, only 40 prisoners remain in that prison, according to the Southern Command communiqué. Amnesty International (AI) asked U.S. President-elect Joe Biden last January to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
In 2009, during the Munich Security Conference in 2009, Biden, then Vice President, told his audience: “We will defend the rights of those we bring to justice. And we will close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.” “A dozen years later, as he prepares to enter the White House as president, Biden has an opportunity to make those words a reality. He must not let it pass him by,” AI said in its report last January.
It also called on the new administration headed by Democrat Biden to give “priority” and “resources” to the closure of this prison located at the U.S. naval base on the territory of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The report documents a catalog of human rights violations perpetrated against detainees at the camp, “where torture victims are held with inadequate medical care, indefinitely and in the absence of fair trials,” the organization said in a statement.