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Intel of 'Enormous Value' Gleaned From Guantanamo Detainees

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2003 – Enemy detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are providing U.S. military officials with intelligence of "enormous value," the general in charge of the facility said.

Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller wouldn't discuss specific information, but he said the intelligence gleaned from detainees is particularly valuable when pieced together with information collected elsewhere.

"It links with that intelligence that's being developed in other areas of the global war on terrorism," Miller said during an ABC News interview Jan. 8. "It provides enormous value to the nation."

The U.S. military has been holding enemy combatants at Guantanamo for a year, as of Jan. 11. Roughly 625 detainees are held in a recently completed detention facility. Enemy combatants who can contribute to America's ongoing fight against terrorism are being detaining while those who no longer pose a threat are beginning to be released, he said.

Miller stressed the detainees are treated humanely and are well cared for. They receive culturally sensitive meals and quality medical care, and their religious needs are met. The detainees have access to a Muslim chaplain and receive their own copy of the Quran. They are allowed to pray at the proper times each day.

The general pointed out the detainees have gained an average of 13 pounds each since their arrival. Many have received medical procedures that wouldn't have been possible in their home countries. "Our hospital down there has been able to do a number of procedures to increase (the detainees') quality of life," Miller said.

U.S. policy came under fire over the "enemy combatant" status conveyed to the detainees. Critics said the individuals should be prisoners of war and be given all the rights that status provides under the Geneva Conventions.

Bush administration officials argued against that, saying the men didn't belong to a military force of a recognized government. U.S. officials still maintain that even though the detainees aren't prisoners of war, they will continue to be treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention.

Simply put, Miller said, detainees are being treated as Americans would want U.S. service members to be treated in the same situation.

He couldn't say how much longer the bulk of the detainees might be held, noting that would be a decision for the U.S. government to make.

"We will detain them as long as we are directed to while the global war on terrorism is ongoing and until the president and secretary of defense give us further guidance," Miller said.

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