By Carol Rosenberg
The Miami Herald.
A controversy has roiled the war-on-terror prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for weeks now over the recent use of female guards to shuttle devout Muslim captives to legal appointments.
But the war court censor doesn’t want you know that the issue is about women.
A security team blacked out the words “female” and “male” in a military defense team’s legal motion that asks a war court judge to order the prison to stop using female guards to shackle and otherwise touch an Iraqi man accused of running al-Qaida’s army in Afghanistan.
The lawyers argue in their 12-page motion that the issue is one of religious sensitivity and that for years the guards had accommodated their traditional Muslim client’s wishes that he, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, not be touched by female guards.
They also argue, between redactions, that there are plenty of male guards at the prison. For example, they said, when the issue flared on Oct. 8, the military brought in a four-man squad to tackle and shackle Hadi because he refused to be shackled by a female guard for fear she’d touch him.
The “Emergency Defense Motion for Appropriate Relief to Cease Physical Contact with Female Guards” appeared on the war court docket Wednesday. Censors soon issued a correction calling it “Emergency Defense Motion for Appropriate Relief to Cease Physical Contact with [REDACTED] Guards.”
A plain reading of what was made public makes clear that the censors blacked out at least 13 instances of the word “female” and then 6 usages of “male.”
War court judges, who are junior in rank to the admiral who runs the detention center, are usually reluctant to weigh in on the way the military manages its prisoners — unless an issue interferes with fair trial rights.