A U. S. TRANSPORT plane touched down at Guantanamo Bay at about 2: 15 p. m. ET.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, military officials told NBC that about 15 detainees were aboard the flight, including some who were unable to walk because of their wounds. White military trucks drove onto the runway, apparently to help bring the disabled prisoners on stretchers to secure facilities at the U. S. base, NBC News' Mary Murray reported from an observation point near Guantanamo. The wounded will be evaluated for medical treatment at the base's hospital, officials said.
They said future flights would bring in additional wounded, and an air-conditioned, tented field hospital was being built exclusively for detainees. Monday's flight marked the sixth transport of al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners from U. S. facilities in Afghanistan. The newly arrived detainees join 144 others being held under maximum-security conditions at Guantanamo, with more than 250 still in Afghanistan under detention, officials said. TREATMENT DEBATED The United States considers the detainees to be "unlawful combatants" and thus not subject to the Geneva Conventions that govern the treatment of prisoners of war.
Although U. S. officials insist the detainees are being treated humanely, humanitarian groups have sharply criticized conditions at Guantanamo. On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the United States may have violated the Geneva Convention by releasing photographs of the detainees. The pictures, published over the weekend, show a group of prisoners kneeling, wearing large black goggles, ear cups and manacles on their arms.
Advertisement Red Cross spokesman Darcy Christen said that the Third Geneva Convention on prisoners of war forbade the exposing of captives "to public curiosity."I would consider this (the publication) incompatible with the Geneva Convention," he said. But the Swiss-based humanitarian group declined to comment on what the photographs said about the conditions under which the prisoners were being held. The Red Cross team had initially intended to spend a week in Guantanamo but the arrival of more prisoners meant that it was difficult to put any limit on the visit, Christen said." They are going to be open-ended because there are more prisoners being flown in, and in any case there have to be follow-up sessions," he said. BRITISH ARE ASSUAGED On Monday, the office of Prime Minister Tony Blair released a statement that the British prisoners being held by the U. S.
military in Cuba have "no complaints." There are three Britons among the suspected Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners, and British lawmakers have voiced outrage over what they " ve seen of the conditions. But a British team who visited the camp over the weekend told Blair's office that the British prisoners are "in good physical health," and that there is "no sign of any mistreatment." The team said there were no gags, goggles or shackles while the prisoners were in their cells. U. S. military officials say detainees would have worn such items only as a security measure as they were being moved.