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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK
US 'too soft on al-Qaeda captives'
Workmen at the site of the new permanent facility on Guantanamo
Work is underway on a permanent prison
A former US army intelligence officer has blamed the British media for damaging the effectiveness of the interrogations of prisoners from Afghanistan at the Guantanamo airbase in Cuba.

William Tierney, who was sacked from his job at Camp X-Ray last month, says that interrogators have been too lenient and says a British media campaign of political correctness is among the reasons.

He also says that interrogators have been over-sensitive to accusations of harsh treatment.

Some of them are too young, he says, and others not well enough schooled in the ways of the Middle East and Central Asia to make any progress in breaking the resolve of the tough al-Qaeda fighters they are questioning.

  • Buckets for toilets
  • Thin foam mattresses
  • Beards shaved

    Clickable guide: Inside Camp X-Ray

  • The Pentagon denies the allegations. Officials say Mr Tierney simply found it difficult to work in a team.

    The row came as it was announced that 300 Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at Camp X-Ray will soon move out of the chain-link cells that prompted an outcry from human rights groups and into more solid structures.

    Prison camp officials would not say when the captives would be moved into the new Camp Delta prison, except that it was "imminent."

    The new camp is made up of long rows of cells in sand-coloured buildings that look like elongated mobile homes.

    Walls separating the cells are metal mesh, so prisoners will be able to see and chat with their immediate neighbours. But the outer walls are solid.

    A prisoner is moved by two Camp X-Ray guards
    Guards must shackle prisoners who want to go to the toilet
    Each 8-ft (2.4 metre) by 6ft 8-inch (2 metre) cell has a metal bed attached to the wall, a mattress, a low sink with running water and a floor-style toilet that flushes.

    The indoor plumbing will ease the burden on the 600 military police guarding the prisoners. At Camp X-Ray, they must repeatedly shackle the prisoners and escort them from their cells to portable toilets, except in emergencies when the prisoners use plastic buckets in their cells.

    The US does not consider the captives to be prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention but camp officials said they are honouring the "spirit of Geneva" by treating them humanely.

    The government has announced plans to try some of them before military tribunals, though it has not said what charges they might face.

    Hunger strike

    Earlier this month, Amnesty International criticised that as a "pick-and-choose approach" amounting to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

    Two prisoners who protested at their uncertain fate by refusing to eat for 30 days were force-fed 2,000 calories a day through nasal feeding tubes for 10 days.

    They were returned to the prison cells but still are not eating and probably will be taken back to the hospital in a few days for more forced feeding.

    The new camp has 408 cells finished and another 204 scheduled to be completed by the end of May, an indication that more prisoners held in Afghanistan will be sent to Guantanamo.

    See also:

    27 Feb 02 | Americas
    Camp X-ray: The legal options
    12 Feb 02 | Americas
    UN speaks out on Afghan detainees
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