ABC News: The Blotter
September 24, 2007 4:09 PM
Stephen Grey and Brian Ross Report:
The discovery that two Guantanamo detainees were wearing unauthorized underwear — Under Armour briefs and a Speedo bathing suit — has apparently triggered a full U.S. Navy investigation.
In a letter last month to a lawyer representing the two detainees, a U.S. Navy Commander warned, “We cannot tolerate contraband being surreptitiously brought into the camp” and said, “Such activities threaten the safety” of Guantanamo staff, detainees and visiting lawyers.
The lawyer who received the letter, Clive Stafford-Smith of London, wrote back, “I have never received such an extraordinary letter in my entire career.”
“I cannot imagine who would want to give my client Speedos, or why,” Stafford-Smith responded about his client, Shake Aamer. He “is hardly in a position to go swimming, since the only available water is the toilet in his cell. I presume that nobody thinks that Mr. Aamer wears Speedos while paddling in his privy.”
Aamer, a Saudi Arabian, has been held at Guantanamo for more than five years, according to the Associated Press.
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The U.S. Navy Commander, whose name was redacted from copies of the letters provided to ABCNews.com by Stafford-Smith, said the investigation revealed “the briefs were not issued by JTF-Guantanamo personnel, nor did they enter the camp through regular mail.”
Stafford-Smith rejected any implication that he or his colleagues had smuggled in the “contraband” underwear to their clients.
“Does someone seriously suggest,” he asked, that he or his colleagues “have been stripping off to deliver underpants to our clients?”
A U.S. military spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Ed Bush, told the Associated Press earlier this month the investigation was no laughing matter.
“There is no room for error when working in a dangerous environment, and constant vigilance is of the utmost importance,” Bush told the AP.
Some 340 men are being held at the prison on suspicion of terrorism or links to al Qaeda.
President Bush has indicated he wants the Guantanamo prison shut down, but to date there have been no details on how or when that might happen.
Stephen Grey is a freelance journalist who contributes to ABC News.
ABC News: The Blotter