At the height of Camp 6 cooperation, about 130 captives lived in pods — praying together, eating together and having around-the-clock access to an open-air recreation yard, while guards kept a distance.
Following Saturday’s raid, about 60 captives were confined single-cell, maximum security style and the guards were inside the blocks that the captives once controlled.
“In order to reestablish proper observation, the guards entered the Camp 6 communal living spaces to transition detainees into single cells, remove obstructions to cameras, windows and partitions, and to assess the medical condition of each detainee,” a statement from the prison said.
Nearly 90 of Guantánamo’s 166 captives had been cleared for release or transfer to their home countries years ago but are trapped at the base in POW-style status because of Congressional restrictions on releases.
Ohio Federal Public Defender Carlos Warner, who represents several detainees, said Saturday’s assault “is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. As of last week the strike would end if they allowed the men to surrender the Quran. Instead, the military is escalating the conflict.”
Human Rights Watch counsel Andrea Prasow noted that many of the hunger strikers have been identified by their lawyers as pre-cleared captives.
So, while she said it is understandable that the military sought to re-establish authority over a portion of the prison camps, the new maximum-security lockup regime means that the captives “are essentially being punished for acting out their despair.”
An International Red Cross spokesman, Simon Schorno, said the organization “was not involved in any way in this operation and therefore will not comment on its objectives, the way it was conducted or the detainees’ response to it.”
The White House had no comment on the raid itself but said in a statement that it had “been monitoring the situation at Guantánamo closely” and was told in advance of the “plan to transition detainees at Camp 6 from communal to single-cell living to ensure their health and security.” It said the Defense Department, Southcom or the prison camps staff in Cuba could answer “any more detailed questions about what took place.”