Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh, this is right big of them

Gitmo prisoners can now phone home:
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - The U.S. military said Tuesday that it will allow detainees to make regular phone calls to their families from Guantanamo Bay prison, where many have been confined in extreme isolation for as long as six years.

The new policy by the Defense Department, which previously said security concerns prevented such calls, is part of a strategy to ease conditions for frustrated prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said the telephone policy reflects a commitment to maintaining the health and well-being of Guantanamo detainees. No start date has been set for the program.

Inmates' contact with the outside world generally has been limited to mail delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and meetings with their lawyers. The military has allowed a small number of detainees to speak with their families, but typically only on "humanitarian" grounds such as following a death in the family.

Detainees' attorneys welcomed the phone calls but said reconnecting with family could make life more painful for those at Guantanamo, where the U.S. military holds about 275 men on suspicion of links to terrorism, al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Marc Falkoff, a Northern Illinois University law professor who represents 17 detainees, said one of his Yemeni clients has a 6-year-old daughter with whom he has never spoken.
crossposted at Rants from the Rookery