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Guantanamo Bay - Camp X-Ray

With the opening of Camp Delta, Camp X-ray was closed on April 29, 2002. 300 detainees previously held at Camp X-Ray were transferred to Camp Delta on April 28, 2002. The rest were transferred on April 29, 2002.

JTF 160 / JTF 170

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the military operations in Afghanistan and the ensuing captures of numerous Al Qaida and Taliban individuals, a decision was made to transfer a number of detainees to the Camp X-Ray facility. The base was to serve as a temporary holding facility for Al Qaeda, Taliban and other detainees that come under U.S. control during the war on terrorism.

The U.S. Southern Command was in charge of the operation and activated Joint Task Force-160 (JTF-160) to head the detainee operations. The task force included active duty service members from Fort Hood, TX; Fort Campbell, KY.; Roosevelt Roads, P.R.; Camp Lejeune; Norfolk, VA; Dover AFB, DE, and Charleston AFB, SC. Reserve component personnel were to also deploy on this mission. Military Police personnel were to make up the bulk of JTF-160.

Joint Task Force 160's primary mission is taking care of captured enemy combatants from the war on terrorism. It was established in support of detainee operation activities as the Holding Facility for Al Qaeda, Taliban or other terrorist personnel that come under United States control as a result of the ongoing War on Terrorism. The unit also provides support to Joint Task Force 170 which was stood up by Southern Command on 16 February 2002, to coordinate US military and government agency interrogation efforts in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

JTF 170 handles interrogation operations for the Department of Defense and ensures coordination among government agencies involved in the interrogation of the suspected terrorists. The task force is established in support of detainee operations and serves as the Department of Defense's focal point for interrogation operations in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom".

Camp X-ray

In 1994, during the Haitian migrant operation "Operation Sea Signal" at Guantanamo Bay, a number of migrant camps were set-up at "Radio Range" the site of the Naval Base's radio antennas on the south side of the base, and the future site of the more permanent detainee facility.

To identify the camps, a name was designated to each to correspond with the phonetic alphabet used for official military "radio" communication (Camp Alpha, Camp Bravo up to Camp Golf). When additional sites were established on the north side of the base, camp names were designated using the opposite end of the alphabet, to include Camp X-Ray.

As of February 19, 2002, Camp X-Ray was the only camp site on the northern side of the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay and was being used as a temporary detention facility.

The first detainees arrived at Camp X-Ray January 11, 2002. Officials from the Red Cross visited the facility on January 17, 2004 and met with the facility commanders on January 21, 2004. According to a Washington Post story from June 13, 2004, meeting notes were drawn up from the meeting, as well as, on Januaray 24, 2004, a five-page memo was compiled by military authorities listing 29 issues of concern raised by the ICRC team.

Though DoD officials stressed that the holding conditions at Guantanamo would be humane and in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The validity of that claim was questioned by some following the release by the DoD of pictures of the detainees at Camp X-Ray and amid concerns that the United States was applying international law selectively. Foremost among these issues was the question of the legal status of the detainees with many papers feeling the men ought to be granted the status of Prisoners of War, which gives them certain rights under the Geneva Conventions, including legal representation. The U.S. was steadfastly refusing that designation, referring instead to the men as illegal combatants.

To alleviate claims of mistreatment, the Pentagon temporarily suspended flights of prisoners to the base on Thursday January 24, 2002 to avoid overcrowding. It also allowed members of the International Red Cross and the British government to visit the camp. The Red Cross recommended some changes while the British officials reported that the three British citizens being held at the facility had no complaints. A US Senatorial delegation made up of Senators Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Dianne Feinstein of California and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, inspected Camp X-Ray on January 27, 2002, spending about two-and-a-half hours at the facility. By then, the number of detainees had grown to 158.

The detainees were reportedly well-fed, being provided correct dietary meals, with access to shower and toilet facilities. Islamic detainees have the opportunity to pray six times a day and are ministered to by two of the U.S. military's 12 Muslim chaplains. Detainees may freely converse with one another and each has access to a copy of the Koran, if they so choose.

As of February 1, 2002, detainee in-processing and questioning at Camp X-Ray had been limited to such subjects as basic name, place of birth, time of birth, name of parents, siblings and education, though according to Sen. Inouye more in-depth interrogations was to start soon thereafter.

Detainees at Camp X-Ray are housed in temporary 8-by-8 units surrounded by wire mesh. They sleep on 4-to-5 inch-thick mattresses with sheets and blankets. The mattresses are on the floor, as is Afghan custom. Each unit has a concrete slab floor and a combination wood & metal overhead cover.

Detention units are separated by chain link fence while razor wire and watchtowers surround the compound. Guards inside the compound carry no weapons, to prevent detainees from possibly capturing weapons. The guards outside the compound are armed, however.

As of March 27, 2002, there were 300 detainees in Camp X-Ray, representing at least 33 different countries.

In addition, in response to health concerns about the detainees at Camp X-Ray, Navy service members began construction in late January of a temporary medical facility capable of providing medical attention that ranges from dental exams to major surgery. The aim of the hospital was to provide the detainees with medical care similar to that given to US troops.

Construction of the facility required over 180 people in conjunction with Navy Fleet Hospital 20 from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Initially, it took 17 Navy builders from Construction Battalion 423, commonly known as "the Seabees," to clear and prepare the land for the hospital. This took over three days of intense 24-hour operations beginning January 18. Tents went up in one day and the International Standards Organization (ISO) containers were unpacked, expanded and organized into rooms and storage areas fit for labs, washrooms and examination rooms.

The medical facility takes up approximately 1 acres and has a 36-bed capacity. It has three wings with the first wing housing a pharmacy, a lab, an x-ray, and mobile utility modules (akin to a head facility). The second wing is a medical suite which has the casualty receiving and operating room. The third wing is an intensive care unit wing.

Water is provided through one 1500-gallon portable tank and four 2000-gallon water bladders. Wastewater is stored in two other specialized ISO containers. Power is currently provided through generators, but there is a plan to hook up shore power and use the generators as backups. In addition, laundry facilities for hospital linens will be on site.

The 24-hour facility will have security measures in place, with two military police accompanying each detainee to the hospital and remaining there with him.

Navy Seabees lated built, in a matter of hours, a 'negative-pressure' isolation ward for the hospital out of spare parts in response to demands by Fleet Hospital medical staff concerned about detainees possibly identified as infectious disease patients. The isolation was initially a storage rooom built next to the existing Fleet Hospital's ICU Ward. Seabees wired the tent for lights and hooked up an air conditioning unit. More work was then required to prevent sending contaminated air back into the unit or circulating throughout the tent.

As of April 9, 2002, More than 850 military personnel, from each of the five branches of the Armed Forces, were assigned to Joint Task Force 160 to support security operations here.

Freedom Heights

U.S. Army Military Police (MPs) provided the day-to-day security for the detainees inside Camp X-Ray while U.S. Marines provided security and perimeter patrols at Camp X-Ray. The MPs, along with Marines, infantry, and some other service members, lived outside the detention camp at "Freedom Heights", a hilltop "Tent City" which located just outside the detention facility the detention facility, overlooking it, in conditions nearly similar to the detainees.

Overall Tent City had a population of more than 500. Navy Seabees constructed guard towers and wooden buildings called SEAhuts (Southeast Asia Huts) at Camp X-Ray and installed lighting. The Seabees also later provided quality of life improvements to Tent City, providing wooden decking and lighting for tents as well as showers, an eating area and SEAhuts for recreation. Soldiers residing at Freedom Heights used make-shift showers with no hot water and porta-potties as latrine facilities

With the closing of Camp X-Ray and the opening of Camps Delta and America, Freedom Heights was also closed. Freedom Heights, the 78-tent city erected in January to house the guards who watched over the detainees at Camp X-Ray, was torn down and packed up on July 31-August 1, 2002, by 57 volunteers from Joint Task Force 160.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:49:00 ZULU