Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo get video conferencing with families in their home country

Posted on January 4, 2011


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It seems some people at the Red Cross and within our government must have been feeling a bit guilty that a large group of long-detained Yemeni captives hadn’t gotten to speak, or even see, to their families for almost a decade.  The solution?  Why give them video teleconferencing, of course:

With the prison camps at Guantánamo approaching their 10th year, some of the majority Yemeni captive population have just received a new perk: video conferencing back to family via a new link set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Geneva-based group announced the service’s inauguration on Tuesday, saying four Yemeni captives had been allowed to use the teleconferencing this month in calls beamed between the Navy base in southeast Cuba and the nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

Prisoners and family can speak by video for up to an hour, according to a Red Cross statement. It said some detainees and their families can now see and speak to each other “for the first time in almost a decade.”

The ICRC had earlier acted as go-between for the captives and their families with “Red Cross Messages.” Those are the brief exchanges on official forms that the Pentagon sanctioned soon after it opened the camps on Jan. 11, 2002, provided the military could review each message before delivery.

Exactly how insane is this?  Yemeni detainees are now being given up to an hour of video chat time with “family members.”  Additionally, since it is a live chat session, there is no review or clearance of what topics will be allowed to be discussed.   Excuse me, but doesn’t this raise some security issues?

For one, isn’t Yemen now the new hotbed for Al-Qaeda?  Let’s hope the military is confident in their authentication of “family members”, or how is one to differentiate between a relative and an Al-Qaeda operative posing as “cousin Mohammed” dropping by to catch up?  Better yet, what if the family members ARE sympathetic, or are members of Al-Qaeda themselves?  Doesn’t this raise some kind of concern with our military that, at the least, these live chat sessions may possibly be used by terrorists in Yemen to provide moral support to those currently in Guantanamo, in short, a sort of aid and comfort.  It is especially troubling if there is the chance that the detainees may be repatriated back to Yemen, as many have already been? And, where many have eventually returned to the fight against us?

 Prisoners here in the U.S. don’t even get to  see their families unless their  family members make a trip to the prison to see them. Why are we trying to make the stay at Guantanamo more comfortable for these detainees?

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Posted in: War on Terror, Yemen