‘Bad guys’ arrive in Cuba

By John Hendren

Los Angeles Times

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – The first clutch of 20 prisoners arrived at a makeshift prison on a sliver of American soil Friday, four months after the Sept. 11 attacks that touched off the U.S. war on terrorism and 27 hours after leaving a Kandahar, Afghanistan prison.

The first detainee limped off the Air Force C-141 Starlifter plane at 1:50 p.m. local time, bound and shackled, wearing an orange jumpsuit, turquoise face mask and a cap with goggles. The 20 were chosen by the threat they posed, said Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert, commander of the joint task force responsible for the prisoners.

“These represent the worst elements of al-Qaida and the Taliban,” Lehnert said. “We asked for the bad guys first.”

Several appeared to resist as they stepped into the 85-degree heat, although Army Lt. Col. Bill Costello said they might have been disoriented from the flight.

At one point, observers heard shouting, but it was unclear whether it came from the detainees or from Marines barking commands. Some prisoners were pushed to their knees and frisked. Some were ordered to remove their shoes for inspection.

Looming amid the vultures circling overhead was a Navy Huey helicopter with a gunner leaning out the side. On the cactus-strewn plain below stood about 50 heavily armed soldiers from all four U.S. military services, many wearing Kevlar vests, helmets and face shields. One Humvee bore a grenade launcher. Two had 50-caliber machine guns. Offshore was a small Navy patrol boat.

One prisoner was sedated en route, military officials said without elaborating. Military commanders, who had studied pro-Taliban prisoner uprisings in Pakistan and in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, were taking no chances, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“These are people who would gnaw through hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down,” Myers told reporters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denied that the cagelike cells, hoods and sedatives used on prisoners might violate international standards, as charged by the rights group Amnesty International.

Lehnert, the general overseeing the prisoners, said their existence at Guantanamo would be “humane but not comfortable.” They would be free to practice their religion and given meals consistent with their Muslim diet, he said.

Although the Pentagon plans to use the Geneva rules as a general guide, Rumsfeld said, the detainees would not fall under those rules because they were not uniformed soldiers in a recognized military. Instead, they would be treated as “unlawful combatants.”

From the ranks of these and other prisoners, described by their captors as ranging from homicidal to suicidal, U.S. intelligence officials have culled a bonanza of information, Rumsfeld said.

Interrogations and hundreds of items seized from prisoners and their cave and bunker hideouts – computers, address books, cell phones and training guides – are helping to identify the fates of other senior leaders and prevent terror attacks, Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon briefing.

The number of U.S. prisoners by Friday was 445. Defense officials would not say how many would be moved to Guantanamo or how soon, but Lehnert said he expected “periodic shipments.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

People look out onto Mountain Loop Mine from the second floor hallway of Fairmount Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mining company ordered to stop work next to school south of Everett

After operating months without the right paperwork, OMA Construction applied for permits last week. The county found it still violates code.

Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Arlington woman arrested in 2005 case of killed baby in Arizona airport

Annie Sue Anderson, 51, has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since December. She’s facing extradition.

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

The Nimbus Apartments are pictured on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County has the highest rent in the state. Could this bill help?

In one year, rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Snohomish County went up 20%. A bill seeks to cap any increases at 7%.

A Snohomish County no trespassing sign hangs on a fence surrounding the Days Inn on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Meth cleanup at Edmonds motel-shelter made matters worse, report says

Contamination has persisted at two motels Snohomish County bought to turn into shelters in 2022. In January, the county cut ties with two cleanup agencies.

A child gets some assistance dancing during Narrow Tarot’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Lucky Dime in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Drive-By Truckers, Allen Stone headline 2024 Fisherman’s Village lineup

Big names and local legends alike are coming to downtown Everett for the music festival from May 16 to 18.

Sen. Patty Murray attends a meeting at the Everett Fire Department’s Station 1 on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sen. Murray seeks aid for Snohomish County’s fentanyl, child care crises

The U.S. senator visited Everett to talk with local leaders on Thursday, making stops at the YMCA and a roundtable with the mayor.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Brenda Mann Harrison
Taking care of local news is best done together

The Herald’s journalism development director offers parting thoughts.

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.