US closes facility at Guantánamo

A gate at Camp X-Ray, the original prison for wartime detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, on August 20, 2014. (Photo: NYTimes)
 US military guards have moved Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other former CIA prisoners to the main part of the prison compound at Guantánamo Bay from a failing secret facility, in a consolidation of detention operations that could cut costs and reduce the troop presence at the base in Cuba, the military said Sunday.اضافة اعلان

Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the September 11 attacks in 2001, and other so-called high-value detainees at Guantánamo were moved to Camp 5 as part of the consolidation. The two-story building, a maximum-security facility that cost $17 million to build in 2004, is modeled after a state prison in Bunker Hill, Indiana.

It has a modest detainee health clinic and a psychiatric ward with a padded cell, but none of the hospice or end-of-life care capacity once envisioned by Pentagon planners.

The maximum-security facility is designed to keep prisoners confined to their cells except when guards move an individual to showers, outdoor cages that serve as recreation yards or another cell where a single captive can sit in a recliner, one ankle shackled to a bolt on the floor, and watch television.

As of Sunday, the military said, all 40 so-called war on terror detainees — the 11 men who have been charged with war crimes, as well as others who are held as indefinite detainees — were housed in a compound ringed with razor wire and containing two prison buildings, called camps 5 and 6.

The plan to consolidate the prisoners was devised during the Trump administration, when their former compound, camp 7, was failing.

“This sounds like a solution to the crumbling camp 7,” said James G. Connell III, a capital defense lawyer who represents Ammar Al-Baluchi, who along with his uncle, Mohammed, and three other men is accused of conspiring in the September 11 attacks. “They are abandoning it rather than repairing it.”

Maj. Gregory J. McElwain, a spokesman for the US Southern Command, declined to say how much the consolidation cost. Over time, he said, the move would most likely mean a reduction in troops from the 1,500 mostly National Guard members.