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Manual sheds light on Gitmo detainee treatment

Miami Herald
by Carol Rosenberg
November 15, 2007

Guantánamo detainees were denied Red Cross visits and mail, had criticism of the U.S. government or leaders censored from their letters and were isolated without Korans, according to a once-secret prison camps manual that has surfaced on the Internet.

Though military spokesmen on Wednesday confirmed the March 2003 policy manual was authentic, they cited security needs at the remote Navy base in Cuba in declining to confirm specifics.

''Detention operations . . . have evolved significantly since 2003,'' said Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, making clear that the Red Cross now can see all detainees.

At issue was the sudden appearance on the Internet -- first on a website devoted to defense leaks, later on the online magazine Wired -- of the 238-page ''Camp Delta SOP,'' military jargon for Standard Operating Procedures at the prison camps broadly called Delta.

A how-to manual, it draws back a curtain on the secretive, isolated base in 2003, more than a year into operation of the Bush administration prison.

And it lays out -- with typical military attention to detail -- everything from when to use pepper spray to who should witness a cavity search to how to dig a proper Muslim grave.

It also offers the mundane details of what detainees were given at the open-air prison camp overlooking the Caribbean, where the Pentagon today holds about 300 war-on-terror captives at Guantánamo for possible interrogation and trial by Military Commission.

No hair dye, it says on one page. But a double amputee got to keep a bucket in his cell, it says.

The manual includes a cover page authorizing its use by Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, then prison camps commander who repeatedly told reporters that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had full access at the Pentagon's showcase detention and interrogation center.

But page 91 describes four ''levels of visitation'' that the detainees received from the international monitoring team, starting with:

``No Access: No contact of any kind with the ICRC. This includes the delivery of ICRC mail.''

The other three levels range from ''restricted,'' meaning health and welfare questions but ''no prolonged questions;'' ''unrestricted,'' described as ''full access to talk to the detainee;'' and ''visual,'' meaning ``no form of communication is permitted.''

A Red Cross official declined to comment, citing long-standing policy, but said its rules stipulate that delegates meet and speak with captives the world over in privacy.


Moreover, a portion of the military manual spelling out new-detainee handling procedures says that, for at least the first two weeks, newly arrived captives don't get Red Cross or chaplain visits.

Nor are they given a Koran, prayer beads or a prayer cap.

It's part of what the manual calls the Behavior Management Plan, meant to isolate the captive and ``enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee.''

Commanders emphasize now, as then, that detainees are treated humanely. Bush, the prison camps spokesman, said the manual ''was not intended for mass distribution,'' and was marked ``Unclassified -- For Official Use Only.''

Still, he added, ``It is important to understand that SOPs, by definition, undergo periodic review and change as situations warrant.''

In two significant changes, he noted by email from the Navy base: ''Under current procedures, the ICRC has access to all detainees'' at Guantánamo.

Since Miller ran the prison camps, another Army general and two Navy admirals have been in charge, Bush said.


The manual first turned up on Wikileaks -- a website devoted to publishing defense documents -- prominently posting the general's cover sheet. It was soon picked up by the online magazine Wired under the headline, ``Sensitive Guantánamo Bay Manual Leaked Through Wiki Site.''

Wired called it ``a never-before-seen military manual detailing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. military's Guantánamo Bay detention facility.''

The manual also included a variety of information that journalists and photographers were not allowed to report under ground rules for prison camp package tours -- from the color-coded access badges used in Guantánamo to charts that lay out the different parts of Camp Delta.

Some of the information is anachronistic after several years of construction that shifted the majority of the detainees from the Caribbean front prison camps -- called 1, 2 and 3 -- to camps 5 and 6, more modern, state-of-the-art prison buildings that were built after the manual was written.

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