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Press Conference Held Regarding Guantanamo Bay Detainees

Aired January 12, 2002 - 08:37   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We'd like to take you to a news conference that's going on with Colonel Terry Carricho at Guantanamo Bay. As you know, the detainees arrived there yesterday. We're going to hear more from the Colonel now.


QUESTION: Are there any little things you might have (OFF-MIKE)?

COL. TERRY CARRICHO, U.S. ARMY: I will just say that we conducted after action reviews yesterday and we found some minor things in some procedures that we're going to improve on. And I'll just be frank with you that every time we do one of these, we'll learn something new and improve our process.

QUESTION: Can you give us the general age range of these guys? Is it 20 or 30 or 40?

CARRICHO: Ma'am, I haven't seen them processing records. I really wouldn't want to guess the age. They look to be, you know, I'd be guessing 30. I don't know. But I can't confirm that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)? Can you elaborate on that, your conversations you've had?

CARRICHO: I really can't confirm the conversation but when I observed them, they were in their individual units that we have them in, that you observed them the day before, the chain link fence. So naturally they're going to possibly be able to talk to each other. I mean we haven't got them isolated with walls. So...


CARRICHO: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Do they get Korans?

CARRICHO: Yes, they'll receive a Koran as one of their comfort items.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) a situation where you've been describing the humane part of it. (OFF-MIKE) How are you addressing that? (OFF-MIKE) CARRICHO: Yes, and I call it like this, I'll use the words again, firm and fair. We have positive control of these individuals. We have a layered security set up where there's multi layers from internal to the external security forces and we're treating them to maintain positive control. And most of the time we will outnumber them and whenever they're out of their cells. So positive control, firm and fair, and I'm very confident, very confident that we have the situation well in hand.

QUESTION: Could you describe positive control, what you mean by that?

CARRICHO: The individual will be in the control of another two individuals when he is out and he'll be properly cuffed when he's out of his individual unit that he's staying in.

QUESTION: Colonel, in terms of exercise, is this like a regimented military exercise program or do you just let them out to walk around in a controlled area for a while and get some fresh air?

CARRICHO: When they're out for rec call, they'll be under positive control that I just described. They'll be able to walk around, get out of their individual unit and if they want to, be good, you know, cooperate with us, then we'll continue to allow them.

QUESTION: No mandatory drop and give me 50 or?

CARRICHO: Oh, no, no. It's not a regimented P.T., you know? We're basically going to let them out in an area where they can walk around.


CARRICHO: Ma'am, I don't know of any sedation of any of the detainees and we're not doing that at Camp X-Ray.

QUESTION: I have to (OFF-MIKE) detainees (OFF-MIKE) I mean what is your understanding of sort of the warden of this camp, what are they (OFF-MIKE)?

CARRICHO: My understanding right now, they're detainees. Other than that, I wouldn't want to venture. I don't classify them. That's sort of out of my league.

QUESTION: Colonel, we understand that the Army and the Navy...


QUESTION: ... intelligence have...


QUESTION: ... counterintelligence thing. They're trying to make sure that these, the buildings that are being built by foreign nationals, that there's no penetration or security issues. Tell us about, you know, you said the other day your camp is, your prison is break free, that it's not going to happen there.


QUESTION: ... safe do you believe your camp is considering all the security and steps that have been taken around it?

CARRICHO: I'm 100 percent confident. You know, I...

QUESTION: Is there any way they can break out of it?

CARRICHO: I'm not going to say there isn't any way, but I'm going to tell you, there's going to be no one break out of it. I'm very confident of that and I don't know how to better describe that to you.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea of what the plans are for them, how long they're going to be (OFF-MIKE)?

CARRICHO: I do not. My mission is to provide security at Camp X-Ray and I'll do that until I'm told to stop.

QUESTION: Any feel for when the next group is coming in? We've heard it could be as soon as today?

CARRICHO: Right now I prefer not to go into any procedural or, for security reasons, on arrival.

QUESTION: They've arrived here this morning. Are they going to be given any extra clothing and blankets and whatever (OFF-MIKE)?

CARRICHO: We are, they were given a sheet last night. We have blankets on hand at the camp. If we think it's going to stay cool and moist, we'll issue the blankets. I can tell you last night that the overhead protection did what we wanted it to and we didn't have a significant issue with the rain.


CARRICHO: Some, if they come with them, they will be able to retain them. They should receive those...


PHILLIPS: As you know, sometimes with our videophone we get a frozen signal and that's exactly what we got right there. But what you were watching was sort of an impromptu news conference with Colonel Terry Carricho talking about the Taliban and al Qaeda detainees at Gitmo in Cuba, talking about very firm and fair conditions, he said, saying that it's in positive control, multilayered security forces to maintain the peace there as the detainees arrived and are living there now on the naval base.

He said it's a constant improving process on how to do things better and that as a comfort item that the detainees have been receiving a Koran as they are guided into their cage areas where they are staying. We're going to bring in our military analyst, Major General Don Shepperd. He joins us from Washington to talk a little bit more about the detainee process, among other things going on in this war against terror in Afghanistan.

Good to see you, General.


PHILLIPS: Well, first of all, it was interesting hearing some of these questions. The issue of sedation came up. I was trying to look through my wires here. I thought I had read something that mentioned that might be a possible tool. However, the Colonel was saying no.

How do they maintain the peace? I understand there was a little bit of a resistance, General, with some of these detainees when they arrived on the base.

SHEPPERD: Yes, Kyra, from the information that I was able to garner, they sedated one prisoner for the trip over that evidently was particularly violent, particularly uncooperative. These are things they can do at any time. But as the Colonel said, it doesn't appear that they are continuing to do that now that they've got them in the maximum security facility there.

Now, this Camp X-Ray is very much like you see on TV and very much like we see in the movies. It's a maximum security prison of very dangerous prisoners. You can think of them as death row prisoners from the standpoint of security, not that they're going to be subjected to death necessarily. But that's the view that we're taking, because they've been, they've on at least three occasions been known to rise up against their captors, overpower their captors and cause significant problems. So they're taking extreme precautions.

PHILLIPS: And I understand the detention conditions are humane but not comfortable. Let's go into a little bit more detail about what you know about their conditions.

SHEPPERD: Yes, firm but fair, as the Colonel said, is a pretty good word. And we're going to take no nonsense with these people, but they're not going to be harmed. They're going to be fed, they're going to be housed. If it rains they'll be protected from the rain. They'll be given shelter, etc.

What you want from these people is information over time and you want to convince them that, look, you're going to be here for a long, long time, perhaps forever, unless you cooperate with us and give us information. And you will take pieces of information that you're getting from Afghanistan and other places, combined with what these people tell you, and gradually over time hopefully you'll put together a picture that will lead you to al Qaeda cells in other places.

That's really what we're after. But it's going to be firm and fair treatment of these people. PHILLIPS: You talk about getting intelligence from these detainees, but nothing, nothing is for sure, correct? This is really a wait and see process. At what point do you sort of, I don't know, maybe push the limits of firm and fair to try and get information out of these detainees?


PHILLIPS: A lot of them just will not talk.

SHEPPERD: Of course, and you're really asking the question, are we really going to use force and beat these guys up or torture them. The answer is absolutely not. We don't do that. We use time. Time is on our side and we will get what we want from various sources over time.

Now, these people basically are there because of intelligence we've already received. As we gather other intelligence, we'll be asking them questions in repeated interrogation sessions about who do you know, do you know a man by this name, have you ever come across? And if you'll cooperate with us, maybe, you know, you'll be able to get out of this. Maybe you'll be sent home. And again, over time, you'll be able to convince them that it's in their interests to cooperate.

Some of them never will cooperate. Now, they are detainees. They are not prisoners of war and that's one of the reasons, also, by the way, that we can't photograph them, that the media is being prevented from photographing them. The rules of war which are being applied to these detainees prevent you from exploiting detainees, taking pictures, showing them around the world.

You remember the marches in Hanoi of our POWs during the Vietnam War, a gross violation of the rules of war. And so we're not doing that, that's what it amounts to.

PHILLIPS: Yes, Major General Don Shepperd, thanks so much. We'll catch up with you again in the next hour.

SHEPPERD: A pleasure.




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