U.S. limits info at Gitmo

The U.S. military has temporarily stopped providing the specific allegations against individual terror suspects who appear before hearings at Guantanamo Bay, officials said Tuesday.

The administrative review board hearings are meant to determine whether 540 prisoners from 40 countries being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba still pose a threat to the United States and its allies or have intelligence value. Those who do not could be freed.

Previously, the military readily provided “fact summaries” detailing the accusations against individual detainees and whether they allegedly had links to al-Qaida terror network or the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The new restriction came days after journalists were first allowed into the hearings and were permitted to hear the allegations against individual detainees.

The change occurred this week, said Navy Lt. Terry Green, a spokesman at Guantanamo. He declined to say why the decision was made. It was not clear when the military would resume providing the individual summaries.

Federal judges are trying to sort out detainee rights following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that federal courts are open to appeals on behalf of foreigners held at Guantanamo. Dozens of detainees have had motions filed on their behalf in federal courts.

Green said he could only provide information about whether hearings had taken place, the detainees’ ages and how long they have been at Guantanamo. Since Friday, the cases of four detainees went before the review boards – two on Friday and two on Monday, he said. There was one review board hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

So far, 68 cases have gone before the review boards, Green said.

The review boards are separate from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which were intended solely to determine whether the prisoners were properly held as enemy combatants, a classification that includes anyone who supported the Taliban or al-Qaida and does not afford as many legal protections as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals wrapped up in December after considering the cases of 558 detainees. So far, the tribunals have ordered 33 prisoners freed and 506 to remain classified as enemy combatants.

Human rights groups and defense lawyers have long criticized the U.S. detention mission at Guantanamo. Many of the detainees have been held for more than three years, most without any charges filed against them.

© 2005 The Associated Press