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First prisoners from Afghanistan arrive at U.S. naval base in Cuba
AP | 1/11/02

Posted on 01/11/2002 10:50:32 AM PST by kattracks

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba (AP) A U.S. Air Force plane carrying 20 prisoners from Afghanistan touched down at this remote U.S. military outpost Friday, bringing the first of hundreds who are to be detained here for questioning.

In Washington, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the arrival of the plane carrying the 20 detainees. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld noted at a Pentagon news conference that it was "four months to the day" since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Shortly before 1:55 p.m. EST, reporters saw a military C141 cargo plane circle over the Guantanamo Bay and touch down on the airstrip inside the base on the eastern tip of Cuba.

The landing was seen by about two dozen journalists on hill overlooking the strip about a mile away on the Cuban side. Two nearby Cuban soldiers, at their closest post to the fence of the U.S. base, watched the plane's landing with binoculars.

The plane was one of several that arrived at the base Friday but was the first met by American troops about 20 of them and several light armored vehicles. They were waiting on the tarmac for the plane to arrive.

About a half hour after the plane stopped, two white buses pulled up alongside it, one on either side.

The group of alleged al-Qaida and Taliban fighters were to be taken to another side of the camp and were to be photographed, fingerprinted and issued orange jumpsuits, Navy spokesman Lt. Bill Salvin said.

At their detention camp, known as Camp X-ray, the prisoners will be isolated in temporary, individual cells with walls of chain-link fence and metal roofs, where they will sleep on mats under halogen floodlights. The camp is surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers.

The detainees are being held under extraordinary security since other captives from the al-Qaida terrorist network and fighters of the ousted Taliban government that harbored them have staged bloody uprisings in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld said one of the 20 prisoners was sedated during the flight. The prisoners left the U.S. Marine base at Kandahar International Airport in Afghanistan on Thursday wearing hoods.

The base came under small arms fire shortly after the plane left the runway at Kandahar, and Marines fired back with a heavy barrage. U.S. officials said there were no American casualties.

The departure of the 20 leaves 361 prisoners at the base in Kandahar 30 more were brought there after Thursday's flight and 19 at the air base in Bagram, north of Kabul. One prisoner American John Walker Lindh, found fighting alongside the Taliban remained on the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea.

The Pentagon barred news organizations from transmitting pictures as the prisoners boarded the plane. Journalists were also barred from taking pictures of the prisoners on their arrival in Cuba.

Authorities gave no reason, but the Geneva Convention says prisoners of war must be protected "against insults and public curiosity."

Military officials told reporters they wouldn't even be allowed to bring tape recorders to capture the sound of the plane landing.

The international human rights group Amnesty International expressed concern about the detention and transport methods, saying the plan to house detainees in "cages" would "fall below minimum standards for humane treatment."

The size of the temporary cells 6 feet by 8 feet also is smaller than "that considered acceptable under U.S. standards for ordinary prisoners," the London-based group said.

U.S. officials insist the prisoners are being treated humanely, and the Red Cross and other groups will monitor conditions.

The United States is reserving the right to try al-Qaida and Taliban captives on its own terms and isn't calling them "prisoners of war."

Some human rights activists are concerned that U.S. insistence on describing the captives as "detainees" is a precursor to military tribunals and lowered standards of due process.

POW status would guarantee any captive facing trial a court-martial, forcing prosecutors to meet tough standards.

The camp has room for 100 prisoners now and soon could house 220. A more permanent site under construction is expected to house up to 2,000.

The Guantanamo base is one of America's oldest overseas outposts. The U.S. military first seized Guantanamo Bay in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

The name of the detainees' camp, Camp X-ray, dates from the 1990s, when tens of thousands of Haitian and Cuban migrants were held at the base, said spokesman Chief Petty Officer Richard Evans. The name's origin is unclear, though other camps also were given call-sign names such as Alpha, Beta and Charlie, he said.

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Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
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To: clintonh8r
That is what their supporters on this board in America want!

This is why they must not be treated like American Citizens. These are enemies of America, captured in battle, and they have earned the appropriate Military Tribunal!

21 posted on 01/11/2002 12:09:41 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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To: Grampa Dave
22 posted on 01/11/2002 12:13:47 PM PST by clintonh8r
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To: clintonh8r
"If we treat 'em like we do American prisoners, they'll get cable, a gym and all the sex and drugs they want.

Sorry! No camels allowed.

23 posted on 01/11/2002 12:17:53 PM PST by verity
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To: clintonh8r
Years ago there were a lot of very hungry and vicious sharks in Gitmo bay.

If their offspring are there, just use the military tribunals on the back of a ship anchored in the bay. When determined to be guilty take to them to the fantail, shoot them and slide their filthy murdering bodies into the food chain!

If we do that to several hundred, you will see al_queerdo supporters all over the world trying to make a deal and telling all!

24 posted on 01/11/2002 12:19:03 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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"Cuban Attorney General Juan Escalona scoffed at the plan announced on Thursday by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to bring detainees from the conflict in Afghanistan half-way around the world to the century-old Guantanamo base.

"It's another provocation from the Americans. I hope 15 or 20 (prisoners) get out and kill them," Escalona said, with ironic laughter, on his way into the parliament meeting.

While condemning the September 11 attacks on the United States, Havana has also opposed the bombardment of Afghanistan, calling it a barbaric massacre of civilians to advance imperial goals.

Cuban President Fidel Castro and his ruling Communist Party have long opposed their decades-old political foe's military presence at the 45 square mile (116 sq km) base in Guantanamo Bay, calling the installation a "dagger pointed at Cuba's heart."

The base was founded after U.S. Marines landed at Guantanamo Bay in 1898 during the Spanish-American War and, under a 1934 treaty, can only be disbanded by mutual consent or if the U.S. forces pull out voluntarily.

No comment yet from Castro
With Castro still not commenting in public on the U.S. plan, and state media not mentioning the news, the comments by Vecino and Escalona were the first reaction by Cuban officials.

Their views were echoed by some ordinary Cubans.

"We don't tell the Americans what to do in their territory, so they shouldn't come here and dictate on our land," 26-year-old Julio Mier said on a Havana street. "This is a lack of respect for Cuba," added taxi-driver Herminio Herrera.

In his earlier announcement, Rumsfeld said Washington did not anticipate any trouble from Havana over the use of Guantanamo, which he described as "the least worst place we could have selected."

One senior U.S. military official said earlier this week that ultimately hundreds of captured al Qaeda and Taliban members could be brought to Guantanamo for interrogation. Washington accuses the al Qaeda network, which had been protected in Afghanistan by the former Taliban government, of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.

One of the last front lines of the Cold War, the Guantanamo base has long been a sore point in the Unites States' tense relations with Cuba and is heavily guarded on both sides."

I wonder if the fat lady is Cuban. Don't you hope she can, at least, carry a tune?

25 posted on 01/11/2002 12:31:18 PM PST by Ridin' Shotgun
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To: kattracks
First prisoners from Afghanistan arrive at U.S. naval base in Cuba

For the record it is my understanding the government has taken the decision to call them "detainees" and not prisoners.

26 posted on 01/11/2002 1:22:36 PM PST by MosesKnows
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To: DJ88

For the record it is my understanding the government has taken the decision to call them "detainees" and not prisoners.

27 posted on 01/11/2002 1:26:59 PM PST by MosesKnows
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