Wednesday February 6, 2008 10:01 PM
By ANDREW O. SELSKY
Associated Press Writer
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) – Somewhere amid the cactus-studded hills on this sprawling Navy base, separate from the cells where hundreds of men suspected of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban have been locked up for years, is a place even more closely guarded – a jailhouse so protected that its very location is top secret.
For the first time, the top commander of detention operations at Guantanamo has confirmed the existence of the mysterious Camp 7. In an interview with The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby also provided a few details about the maximum-security lockup.
Guantanamo commanders said Camp 7 is for key alleged al-Qaida members, who must be kept apart from other prisoners to prevent them from retaliating against long-term detainees who have talked to interrogators. They also want the location kept secret for fear of terrorist attack.
The chief prosecutor for Guantanamo Bay’s military commissions has revealed that he relinquished his position after concluding that “full, fair and open trials” for the accused were impossible.”I resigned,” writes Morris D. Davis in the Los Angeles Times, “because I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively or responsibly.”
Davis, an Air Force officer and lawyer, says “it is absolutely critical to the legitimacy of the military commissions that they be conducted in an atmosphere of honesty and impartiality.
“Yet the political appointee known as the ‘convening authority,’” a position he noted that had no civilian counterpart, “was not living up to that obligation.”
In early 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replaced Maj. Gen. John Altenburg as the convening authority with civilian lawyer Susan Crawford. “Altenburg’s staff had kept its distance from the prosecution to preserve its impartiality,” writes Davis. “Crawford, on the other hand, had her staff assessing evidence before the filing of charges” by drafting charges against the accused and assigning prosecutors, among other things.