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Guantanamo Bay - Camp Delta

On January 22, 2009, President Obama signed executive orders directing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities withing a year and the immediate case-by-case review of detainees still held at the facility.

Detention facilities at Camp X-Ray were temporary. As a result of this, of the single occupancy capacity at Camp X-Ray being limited to 320, and with Guantanamo Bay preparing to receive up to 2,000 Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees, the need arose for the construction of larger enclosed long-term detention facilities at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As of April 9, 2002, construction of Camp Delta had already been approved and funded with construction having already begun at Radio Range, approximately five miles from Camp X-Ray. Construction of the new detention facility officially began on February 27, 2002. The first 408 new detention units were completed by the middle of April, and done by Brown & Root Services, as well as Navy SeaBees and Marine engineers.

Camp Delta was first occupied on April 28, 2002, when 300 detainees previously held at Camp X-Ray were transferred to Camp Delta. The rest of the detainees were moved on April 29. Camp X-Ray closed down on that same day.

Camp Delta was initially a 612-unit detention facility. It is built on the site of a former facility made up of cinder-block buildings used years before during a Haitian refugee operation. Each detention units is 8 feet long, 6 feet 8 inches wide and 8 feet tall and constructed with metal mesh material on a solid steel frame. Approximately 24 units make up a detention block. The facility has indoor plumbing with each unit having its own floor style flush toilet, metal bed-frame raised off the floor, and a sink with running water; none of which was available at Camp X-Ray where portable toilets were used instead. Areas at Camp Delta are also better controlled than Camp X-Ray and detainees are out of the sun more. There are also two recreation/exercise areas per detention block at Camp Delta. The maximum security portion of camp Delta is made up of three detention blocks.

U.S. Army Military Police make up the security force inside the camp.

The Detention Hospital is a 20 bed facility located inside Camp Delta and is dedicated to providing expert medical care to the detainees. The Detention hospital is comparable to a full-service, medical facility with state-of-the-art equipment and professional medical staff. It has an outpatient clinic, two operating tables, a dental clinic, a physical rehabilitation area, and quarantine chambers for contagious arrivals.

When detainees arrive at Camp Delta, they are immediately taken to the in-processing building. The inside of the building resembles an unfinished home. It is divided into various rooms for all the different processes. For a group of about thirty detainees, the in-processing session takes about two to three hours. Detainees take showers, are deloused, and are issued their comfort items. They also undergo a medical examination which includes a chest X-ray. The chest X-ray is to check for tuberculosis(TB). Detainees keep a medical mask on during the processing to prevent to spread of TB, at least two detainees have had positive cases of TB. Detainees are also fingerprinted, photographed, and given ID bracelets. They are also given the option to send a short post card to their families to say where they are and that they are safe.

Clean laundry bundles provided to each detainee is made up of one sheet, two towels, one washcloth, one orange bottom (pants), one orange bottom (shorts), one orange bottom top (shirt), a sheet and two blankets. They are also provided a prayer cap, flip-flop shoes, a foam sleeping mattress, a blanket, a 1/2 inch thick prayer mat, soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a one-quart canteen. Detainees are also given a copy of the Koran. According to an account published by the Mirror in September 2002, detainees are allowed two 15-minute showers a week, at which time, they receive a new orange suit. According to a June 13, 2004, story by the Washington Post, detainees were initially concerned by the color of the suits, as they believed the color to be reserved for condemned men, and therefore believed they would be executed. Their concerns were reportedly addressed and they were told that the jumpsuit color was not tantamount to a death sentence.

Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day, one of which is an MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat). To guard against detainees fashioning "make-shift" weapons, special procedures have been put in place. Special arrangements were made with the MRE manufacturer to ensure that these MRE's would have neither cardboard packaging, heating units, accessory pack, nor candy. In addition, Military Police personnel are tasked with sanitizing each MRE, and removing toilet paper, the plastic wrapper off the spoon, a bag of spiced cider, and any additional material deemed to pose a potential threat. This includes salt, with each detainee allowed only one salt. Material given to each detainee for meals in his cell is accounted for once the meal is finished.

Policies have been enacted with regard to respecting the faith and practices of the detainees. Each detainee is given a Koran in their language, and a surgical mask. The surgical mask is used as storage for the Koran. It is hung from the wall in the cell of the detainee. There is a recorded call to prayer that is broadcast five times a day. During the broadcast, a yellow traffic cone, with a big "P" stenciled on it, is placed at the center of each cell block. This is a signal to the guards to maintain a respectful silence while the detainees are praying. There are also arrows around the camp that point in the direction of Mecca. Certain "comfort" items are provided to detainees that comply with the rules of the camp. These items include a prayer rug, perfume oil, and prayer beads. About 64% of detainees have received all of these comfort items.

Camp rules are posted in four languages-Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashto-in the exercise areas of each camp.

Guantanamo is central to the Bush Administration's strategy to prevent judicial review of the legal status of prisoners. Located on Cuban territory, it is the "legal equivalent of outer space," according to one US government official, unlike military bases on US territories. These other locations were ruled out as prison sites because they fall under the jurisdiction of the often-liberal Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to one report, to qualify for transfer and detention at Camp Delta, Guantanamo, prisoners taken in Afghanistan must meet any one of the following criteria:

  • Be a foreign national;
  • Have received training from Al-Qaeda; or
  • Be in command of 300 or more personnel.

As of June 26, 2002, the total number of detainees at Camp Delta was standing at 536.

On August 5, 2002, 34 suspected terrorists arrived at Guantanamo Bay, by an Air Force C-17 military aircraft, thus bringing to 598 the total number of detainees being housed at Camp Delta.

With military officials running out of detention space, construction work began on August 8, on a new wing for the Camp Delta prison camp. An additional 204 cells are to be added to facility with the work to be finished by October 1, 2002, thus bringing the number of cells in the compound to a total of 816.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller assumed command of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay in November 2002, replacing Brigadier-General Rick Baccus. Major-General Jay W. Hood assumed command of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay in March of 2004, replacing Major General Geoffrey Miller.

A delegation from the ICRC visited Guantanamo Bay in October 2003, where it conducted more than 500 interviews.

According to a May 2, 2004 report in the Washington Post ("Guantanamo -- A Holding Cell In War On Terror" by Scott Higham, Joe Stephens and Margot Williams), about $118 million was being spent per year to run the prison facilities and other related operations. Additionally contracts worth $110 million and $14.5 million had respectively been awarded to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. and Dick Corp.; the latter for the construction of a criminal investigation task force headquarters facility.

According to a June 10, 2004 story in the Washington Post ("Detainees' Medical Files Shared" by Peter Slevin and Joe Stephens), military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had been given access to detainees' private medical records, though how such information was used remained unclear. According to the article, a visiting Red Cross medical team's complaints that the sharing of such medical information was a breach of patient confidentiality and a grave problem was recorded in a US Department of Defense memo from October 9, 2003.

A dining facility, the Seaside Galley, is available for JTF personnel working inside Camp Delta. Established in 2002, it consists of a large, air-conditioned tent, with two hand-washing stations located just outside of the tent. A more permanent dining facility is scheduled to be built in September 2003 at the same location, and is known as the Delta Galley. As of mid-August 2003, it was expected to be completed in late October. Other improvements made to Camp Delta include the installation of rubber mats on the floors for guards walking up and down the detention blocks, as well as the setting up of air-conditioned offices at the extremities of each block; with each one to be later equipped with a computer and connected to a LAN.

Camp Delta boasts the only traffic light on the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba , facility, and the second traffic light in Guantanamo Bay history. The light is mounted on the guard shack located at Camp Delta's traffic check point.

Camp Delta is comprised of at least 7 detention camps. These are Camps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and Echo. Camps are numbered acording to the order of in which they were built; not based on their order of precedence or level of security. Three of these (Camps 3, 2, 1) are maximum-security camps that can house about 800 detainees who live in solitary confinement. Camp 5 and 6, more permanent concrete and steel structures, have a separate entrance then the camps contained in Camp Delta. Camp Iguana is also separate from Camp Delta. As of January 2005, Officials were also looking to build an improved facility to house detainees who have a serious mental illness (about 8% of the detainee population). They were also planning on building a high tech fence that surrounds the perimeter of Camp Delta, in an effort to reduce the number of guards that are needed.

Camp 3

Camp 3 is the highest level maximum-security facility at Camp Delta. When an enemy combatant first arrives, he is held at Camp 3. Cells are 6 ft. 8 in. by 8 ft., with a squat-style toilet, a metal sink and a sleeping berth affixed to green steel-mesh walls. Detainees in Camp 3 wear orange uniforms. Detainees are allowed to exercise for about 30 minutes, three times a week, in a small exercise area. They are not allowed to exercise with others. They also not allowed to have a roll of toilet paper. They have to ask a guard to give them an appropriate size piece when they need it. Camp 3 hold about 10% of the total detainees at Camp Delta.

Camp 2

Detainees that cooperate with JTF GTMO staff and help to develop intelligence are moved from Camp 3 to Camp 2. Detainees here still wear the orange uniforms. Cells are 6 ft. 8 in. by 8 ft., with a squat-style toilet, a metal sink and a sleeping berth affixed to green steel-mesh walls. Detainees are allowed to exercise for about 30 minutes, three times a week, in a small exercise area. They are not allowed to exercise with others. They also not allowed to have a roll of toilet paper. They have to ask a guard to give them an appropriate size piece when they need it. Detainees at Camp 2 are given some comfort items that are not allowed at Camp 3. Examples of these items include anti-dandruff shampoo and soft plastic pens-which have been bent so that they cannot be used as weapons. Camp 2 holds about 9% of the total detainees held at Camp Delta.

Camp 1

Further additional cooperation by detainees allow them to be transferred to Camp 1 where the detainee receives additional privileges and are one step away from Camp 4. There are 10 cellblocks with 48 cells each in Camp 1. Each cell is an individual mesh cell measuring 6 feet eight inches wide by eight feet deep. Each cell has a squat down toilet and a small metallic sink. Movement into and within the camp is funneled through "sally ports," entrances and passageways with two gates. One gate must be closed before the next can be opened. Lights are kept on 24 hours a day and there is no air-conditoning. Exhaust fans are employed to give some partial relief.

Detainees are given tan uniforms to wear instead of the orange ones worn at Camps 2 and 3. They are also given canvas sneakers. Each detainee gets basic items such as a "finger toothbrush" -- short and stubby so it can't be used as a weapon -- toothpaste (it is given in a clear container, so guards don't have to squeeze out the contents during a search), soap, shampoo, plastic flip flops, and cotton underwear, shorts, pants and a shirt. They are still not allowed to have a roll of toilet paper. They have to ask a guard to give them an appropriate size piece when they need it. Detainees that are well behaved are allowed to have an empty paper cup to drink water from. The cup is taken away if they use it for some other purpose than drinking water. Detainees are allowed to have thirty minutes of exercise time, in one of two exercise yards, three times a week. Pairs of detainees are allowed to kick around a soccer ball. Meals are delivered through a small window of the cell. It can only be opened from the outside by a guard. They are allowed showers in outdoor shower stalls after their exercise period. 31% of the total detainees are held in Camp 1

Camp 4

Camp 4 is a medium security facility built inside the limits of Camp Delta. Camp 4 opened and received its first detainees on Feb. 28, 2003. Twenty detainees were transferred on that date. With dormitories able to hold up to 20 detainees in each unit, Camp 4 is aimed at enabling a limited number of captives the opportunity to interact with one another. There, detainees are able to eat, sleep and pray together. Admission to the facility will be conditional on each detainee's good behavior and cooperation with the interrogation process.

Detainees held at Camp 4 wear white colored uniforms rather than the orange-colored ones, in addition to a locker for personal storage and access to writing material. Detainees are housed in building complexes where each complex consists of communal living rooms, each with a private toilet and sink, as well as a larger shower and toilet room that serve the entire complex. There are four communal living rooms that can house up to 10 detainees each (though it was initially reported each could house up to 12 detainees). Each detainee has a bed with a mattress, locker for storing personal comfort items and other items like writing material and books. There are also electric fans in the cell bays, and ice water is available around the clock. Detainees are also given a full roll of toilet paper.

Camp 4 also has small, common recreational areas for playing board games and team sports. The most requested games include chess, checkers, and playing cards. Detainees are allowed out into the exercise areas attached to their living areas for about seven to nine hours a day. These areas include covered picnic tables and a ping-pong table. They also have access to a soccer area and a volleyball court. Detainees eat together in their cell block. The food is brought by food-service personnel and the detainees are allowed to serve themselves. A guard watches to make sure that each detainee obtains an equal portion of food. Detainees are given ice cream every Sunday. They are allowed to have supplemental food items, such as yellow cheese, cream cheese, Fig Newtons, pound cake, figs, honey, peanut butter, single-serving cereal boxes, Kool-Aid and fruit cocktail. Detainees are also responsible for keeping their own area clean.

A librarian periodically visits the detainees and gives them access to reading materials. Many request copies of National Geographic. They can also, occasionally, watch some Arabic family TV shows, and soccer highlights.

Doors in Camp 4 are normally opened up with keys, but there can be a mechanical override issued from the command tower, known as Liberty Tower, if there is an emergency. 34% of all detainees are held in Camp 4.

Camp 5

Camp 5 differs from other camps at Camp Delta in that it is a two-story maximum-security multi-winged complex made of concrete and steel. It cost $31 million to build (although another source referred to the facility as being a $16 million one), is designed to hold 100 detainees and was completed in May 2004. It was modeled after the Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, Indiana. It is surrounded by barbed wire for security purposes and green sheets in order to restrict the view. Those that are considered the most dangerous and those deemed to have the most valuable intelligence are housed there.

It is composed of four wings with 12-14 individual cells in each wing. Each cell is about 10 feet by 20 feet. All cells have a small toilet and sink. Some cells have overhanging sinks, and grab bars on the toilets for those detainees with a physical disability. The doors of the cells have two small openings. One is used to deliver food to the detainee and for the detainee to stick his hands out to be handcuffed before he emerges from his cell. The other opening is near the foot of the door and it is for the detainee to stick his feet out to be cuffed before he emerges from his cell.

The camp is run from a raised, glass-enclosed centralized control center that sits in the middle of the facility, giving the MPs a clear line of sight into both stories of each wing. The facility is completely computer controlled. Movement of the detainees are controlled and monitored by touch screens in that control center. Even the showers are controlled by the touch screens in the control center. Guards tell the computer to turn the showers on for a few minutes with a mild water temperature. All the rooms in the facility are monitored by cameras 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Camp 5 is centrally air conditioned. Detainees are allowed access to one of eight 12 feet by 24 feet outdoor exercise area for about an hour a day. About 16% of all detainees are held in Camp 5.

Camp 6

An October 4, 2004, Legal Times articles mentioned that plans were underway to construct a new permanent facility dubbed "Camp 6" at Camp Delta. The new facility would reportedly hold 200 detainees and would cost $24 million to build. It, along with Camp 5, would be the only permanent detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Camp 6 was expected to comply with American Corrections Association standards regarding the prison's daily operations and to be used for long-term incarcerations and rehabilitations. The camp is modeled after a jail in Lenawee County, Michigan. Construction began in October of 2005 and was expected to be completed in mid-June 2006, with the general contractor being Kellogg Brown & Root Services. Upon completion, Camp 6 is expected to be able to hold about 200 detainees.

Camp 6 is to build on the success that Camp 4 produced with regards to promoting good behavior among detainees. The camp is to offer more communal living, increased access to exercise areas, activities, mail and foreign-language materials, and enhanced medical facilities.

Camp Echo

Camp Echo is located just outside the main facility. It is the detention facility where pre-commissions detainees are held. Detainees whom the President of the United States has selected for the Military Commissions are separated from the general population and moved there. The location allows access by detainees to their lawyers and to hold private conversations with them. Detainees are also allowed to keep pen, paper, legal documents, and other such materials that they would not be allowed to have in Camp Delta.

Camp Echo is composed of more than a dozen single-story concrete-block buildings. Each building is divided in half. Inside is a steel cage, a restroom, and a table for interviews and interrogations. This allows detainees to meet with their lawyer in an area of their own cell, but also to be guarded by MPs 24 hours a day. Detainees in Camp Echo are not in solitary confinement. Besides meeting with their lawyers, they receive regular visits from medical staff and numerous visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Camp Iguana

Camp Iguana is a lower-security detention facility initially dedicated to juvenile detainees aged between 13 to 15 years and brought to Guantanamo Bay. Detainees 16 years and older were housed with the other detainees in Camp Delta.

According to media reports, the facility consists of at least one-story blockhouse, surrounded by a a patch of grass and a high green-mesh fence. Detainees there are able to overlook the sea through a 30 by 7 feet gap that is protected by chicken wire. They are allowed to throw a football around or play soccer in the outside exercise area. According to an article in the London Sunday Times on June 26, 2003, the living quarters are air-conditioned and consist of "a bedroom with twin beds, a small living room with two armchairs, sofa and television, and a bathroom and kitchenette", with an oven present for aesthetic reasons, and a refrigerator whose fruit and desserts contents are reportedly handed as part of a reward system. A line of black tape on the floor separates the living room and kitchen areas while privacy in the bathroom is handled by a blue curtain.

Detainees were also tutored in math and geography in their native language. They underwent group therapy and counseling sessions.

The three juvenile detainees that were kept in Camp Iguana were released in January of 2004. The camp was then temporarily shut down until August of 2005. Detainees who are deemed not to be enemy combatants, or who are to be transferred to their home country, were to now be sent to Camp Iguana until arrangements could be made to release or transfer them. Detainees there are assigned their own bunk house, unlimited showers, additional food, and access to a microwave oven and a coffee maker. They would also have the ability to watch TV around the clock with additional access to a VCR, a DVD player, and a stereo system.

Camp America / Camp Bulkeley

A camp, called Camp America, was constructed to house Joint Task Force 160 personnel. As of mid-April 2002, Camp America had been opened to soldiers though it was then still in the process of being finished.

Camp America is located halfway between Windmill and Kittery beaches and consists of 15' by 32' plywood shelters, called seahuts, each of which is equipped with air conditioning and state-of-the-art insulation. The seahuts replace the GP Medium tents the soldiers had previously been living in at Freedom Heights. A total of 105 seahuts were built over the span of three months by Navy seabees with each building housing up to 10 people. These seahuts are scheduled to receive some improvements starting in the summer of 2006. Walls are set to be built inside the seahuts in order to divide them into three separate rooms. A space will be set aside for a common area.

Unlike Freedom Heights, both Camp America and Camp Bulkeley (another camp in which other troops assigned to Camp Delta also reside), the facilities feature hot showers, laundry, and workout facilities.

Each weather-resistant seahut is equipped with two doors at either end and allows for amenities not available at Freedom Heights, such as a fully operating, local area networked communications seahut with phones and fast Internet access available 24 hours a day. The camp also possesses a basketball court, a library, and a hut offering a big-screen television, movies with seating for 20. Each morale welfare and recreation seahut is grouped with two other MWR seahuts with a common porch around them. There are three groups of three MWR seahuts throughout the camp including a chaplain's area and a medical aid station to treat residents.

In addition to the seahuts, there are three tension frame systems (TFSs) at Camp America, supporting a gym complete with free weights, Nautilus-type machines and rubber-matted floors for exercise. The second TFS is the Seaside Galley; an air-conditioned mess hall capable of feeding a battalion-sized element, and which provides 4,000 hot meals a day. The last TSF is a general assembly area. The camp also supports command post operations by centralizing platoon headquarter seahuts among the living seahuts the same way Freedom Heights was set up at Camp X-Ray.

Both camps also feature MWR seahuts where troops have access to the internet and are able to relax during off-duty periods. Additionally, troops have also access to more phone lines and are allowed to make three 15-minute morale calls each week.

As of mid-April 2002, construction operations for camp America were in phase two, extending it about another quarter mile down the beach. Preliminary estimations suggested that the project would take longer than planned however.

On June 24, 2002, a new Joint First Aid Station was opened at Camp America. The clinic is equipped with air conditioning, telephones and computers linked directly to the Navy Hospital and serves both Camp America and Camp Buckeley.

Family housing facilities of Tierra Kay at Guantanamo Bay have also been refurbished, allowing many troops to move into those living quarters, and thus freeing up some of the seahuts at Camp America and Bulkeley for storage and office space.

As of mid-2003, two unused seahuts, previously used as temporary housing, were being reconverted at Camp America into a club, dubbed 'Club Survivor'. The facility was to comprise of a bar in one building, and of and indoor, air-conditioned lounge in the other. The facility opened on July 11, 2003. Plans also called for the construction of a new 3,000 square foot Mini-Mart starting the first week of September and opening for business by the end of October. The structure would consist of five pre-fabricated foul-weather resistant buildings and would be located in the Seaside Galley parking lot.

A new 3,040-square-foot Navy Exchange (NEX) was scheduled to open in mid-late October 2003 at Camp America.

Camp America no longer houses any of the JTF personnel. Personnel are mainly housed in Camp America North and, in December 2005, another housing facility was being built. The 83 seahuts now serve as administrative, storage, recreational, and medical spaces. These spaces include a gym, big screen cable television room, call center and a computer room with internet access.

Camp America North I/II

As of late November 2002, an additional new camp housing JTF GTMO personnel had been opened. Dubbed Camp America North, the facility is equipped with hard roofs and indoor latrines.

As of mid-August 2003, construction work was underway for Camp America North II, also known as Camp America North North, a mirror image of Camp America North. The new housing units was scheduled to house an additional 400 JTF troops. Both Camp America North I/II were scheduled to be upgraded with kitchenettes and other creature comforts. Each house is to accommodate six soldiers and contain a washroom with a toilet and sink. The housing area is to include two male and two female toilet-shower combinations, a kitchenette, barbecue area, and basketball court. The contractual completion date for Camp America North II was December 10, 2003, while the JTF's goal was at one point October 15, 2003.

The camp will include six administrative offices, four MWR buildings, two classrooms and a chapel office. A medical clinic will also function at the new camp. The Camp America Joint Aid Station will move to Camp America North North, expanding into a full clinic. The JTF expected the building to be finished by mid November and to have the clinic functioning within two weeks of that date.

Unnamed JTF Facility

In December of 2005, construction began on a new facility to house more JTF troops. It is scheduled to be completed around the end of May 2006. This facility is being built behind the Gold Hill Galley. This new facility is considered to have better accommodations than the current housing available for the JTF troops. It will be able to house about 200 troops and include a parking lot. The rooms in this facility will be divided into two separate private bedrooms. Each bedroom will be a minimum of 270 square feel and will feature a bed, a writing table, a dresser, and a wardrobe. There will be a single bathroom that is shared by the two occupants of the rooms. There will be window air conditioning and hook ups for phones and cable television.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:48:58 ZULU