The United States is preparing to send al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners to a maximum-security military prison in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay, an American Navy installation, is a highly guarded American military outpost with over 3,000 US military personnel. The base, located throughout the height of the Cold War inside hostile Cuba, maintains an unprecedented level of security, guarded by land, sea and air. It is in effect an autonomous military region, completely isolated from the civilian USA.
Massive Guantanamo Bay has also housed a large prison camp in recent years, where would-be Cuban refugees to the United States were detained. While most of these refugees were what they appeared, a large number of hardened criminals deported by Cuba were also amongst them. These dangerous criminals were separated into a prison camp known as X-Ray, located inside Guantanamo Bay. X-Ray was surrounded by tall barbed wire fences, and guarded by heavily armed Military Police. It has given local American forces the facilities and the experience for guarding highly aggressive prisoners.
The physical separation of Guantanamo Bay from the mainland United States has obviously been a factor in its selection as well. The Americans may fear a prisoners’ revolt like the one that took place when Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners overpowered their guards near Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan more recently. Such a revolt inside the United States may lead to the prisoners massacring American civilians outside their prison. Another consideration is the fact that nobody will be able to approach the Guantanamo Bay prison and assist the prisoners. Tightly guarded on land and sea, the base is also a restricted airspace, and any unauthorized aircraft straying overhead can be shot down.
There is, however, a third and chilling possibility behind the selection of secluded Guantanamo Bay. Because it is a military installation where no one can enter without military permission, civilian oversight over the way the US military will treat its prisoners will be non-existent. Already, US officers have voiced their intention to conduct military tribunals for the prisoners from Afghanistan, and their fate away from public and media view does not seem at all certain.
NBC News, which reported about the preparations under way at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, said US defense officials revealed that the preparations will not be complete until about mid-January, and that meanwhile the detainees are being held on board the USS Pelelieu in the Arabian Sea and at the U.S. Marine base at Kandahar International Airport in Afghanistan. (www.albawaba.com )