Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In communicado

What, the Pentagon expects kudos for planning to allow some detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to call home? That's how it looked today, when a prison spokesman said plans were in the works to permit inmates to get telephone calls up to twice a year if the Pentagon can figure out how to monitor them. "I have no projected time line for implementation but it is currently being developed, Lt. Col. Ed Bush said, according to the Reuters international news service. The Guantanamo Bay prison was set up in 2002 to hold suspects captured in the war on terror, which was launched by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Guantanamo detainees are considered "enemy combatants" by the government, not prisoners of war, so they are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Guantanamo prisoners are allowed to send and receive mail, which is censored by the military and delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but only rarely receive phone calls, Reuters said. A lawsuit over the rights of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Red Cross recently launched a telephone program at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military holds detainees captured in that country.

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