Guantanamo Clamps Down on Information on Inmates

January 11th, 2014 - by admin

Miami Herald – 2014-01-11 00:48:43

MIAMI (January 9, 2014) — After a tumultuous year at the war-on-terror detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — where the US military’s motto is “Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent” — operations are cloaked in secrecy.

The prison approaches the start of its 13th year next week with a new reclusive regime that no longer discloses what was once routinely released information.

The daily tally of hunger-striking detainees — the protest that engulfed more than 100 prisoners at its peak last summer — stopped in December.

Guards and other prison camp troops are under orders to withhold their names when talking to reporters.

On the witness stand in the war court recently, a lawyer in the uniform of an Air Force officer gave sworn testimony under a curious, unexplained fake name — “Major Krueger.”

Guantanamo is remote, and what is happening there in this new era has mostly gone unnoticed. One person it has rattled, however, is New Yorker Rita Lasar, a peace activist whose brother died in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that spawned America’s offshore detention center.

“I pay attention to this very much,” says Lasar, 82, who visited Guantanamo last year to watch a week of war court proceedings. Her brother, Abraham Zelmanowitz, was a 9/11 hero. He died staying at the side of a paraplegic office mate on the 27th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Lasar wanted the 9/11 trial in New York not only for proximity but because, as she saw it: “Guantanamo was set up for one reason only, to keep everything secret.

“Just because my brother died, that doesn’t mean my country has to be changed completely. I’m 82 years old. I lived through McCarthy for God’s sake. This is worse than McCarthy.”

The government controls access to everything pertaining to Guantanamo. Journalists have to get the military’s permission to go there, navigate censorship of their pictures, wait 40 seconds to hear what happens in court and then wait weeks to see court filings.

Until recently, soldiers and sailors serving there could decide for themselves whether to give a reporter their name. Many didn’t, saying they feared retribution by al Qaeda. Some did, eager to talk about their work to counter claims of torture or talk about the hardship of service.

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