Guantánamo

Investigator finishes secret review of Guantánamo female guards’ discrimination complaint; appeals next

Army guards, mostly men, but also a woman, attend an awards ceremony in the Detention Center Zone at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military.
Army guards, mostly men, but also a woman, attend an awards ceremony in the Detention Center Zone at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

An officer from the U.S. Southern Command has completed an investigation of some female prison camp guards’ sex discrimination complaint against two war court judges, the military said Tuesday, declining to disclose the results.

The unnamed women lodged the complaints several weeks ago against Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief of the war court judiciary, who is presiding at the Sept. 11 death-penalty trial, and Navy Capt. J.K. Waits, who is handling the trial of an alleged al-Qaida commander.

Both judges had earlier issued restraining orders against female guards to prevent their touching certain former CIA prisoners who argue that until October the military accommodated their Islamic belief that they not have physical contact with women other than close family members. Now, defense lawyers for the captives, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind, want the judges to make the orders permanent.

Testimony last month showed the Massachusetts and Colorado National Guard units, assigned to guard duty at the secret Camp 7 for former CIA black site prisoners, first tried to mobilize only men to the so-called escort-guard assignment but added women after they couldn’t get a sufficient number of skilled volunteers with appropriate security clearances.

A prosecutor dismissed the religious accommodation request as an al-Qaida conspiracy, and emphasized the U.S. military’s move toward expanding the role of female soldiers.

Army Col. Lisa Garcia, the public affairs officer at Southcom, which supervises the prison, said Tuesday that an unnamed officer had completed “findings” of the equal-opportunity complaints — and an appeals period would ensue.

She said a number of female guards had filed complaints, but she had not seen them and did not know their dates. She offered no timetable for completion of the next phase.

The Miami Herald filed a Freedom of Information Act request Tuesday for details of the investigation — who conducted it, when the guards filed it, what remedies they sought and what the investigators concluded.

Follow @CarolRosenberg on Twitter

The Miami Herald guide to the Sept. 11 war crimes trial here.

See the Sept. 11 judge’s notice of the equal opportunity complaint here.

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