Tension Eases at Guantanamo Holding Facility
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2002 Tension has eased at the Al Qaeda and Taliban holding area at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Pentagon officials said.
"The commander (of the holding facility) and the (Muslim) chaplain have been out and around speaking to the detainees," Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa said during a March 1 late morning Pentagon press briefing. Fewer than 70 detainees had refused meals earlier in the day, he said. That contrasted with the 194 who had refused lunch the day before.
Rosa said people must remember the detainees "are bad folks." He said the two goals in Guantanamo are humane treatment of the detainees and security of U.S. forces guarding them. "We have to be careful and draw that balance," he said.
Rosa said the situation developed like this: A detainee was praying. He had wrapped his head with a piece of cloth. U.S. security forces asked him to remove it.
"He didn't remove it, so they went in and removed it," he said. "The next day the 'hunger strike,' if you will, started."
Since then, detention center officials have discussed the situation and agreed to allow detainees to fashion and wear turbans. However, security personnel may search them.
In other detainee news, Pakistan has turned over 22 more Al Qaeda or Taliban detainees to U.S. control in Afghanistan. This brings to 216 the number under U.S. control in Afghanistan and 300 in the Guantanamo facility.