Department of Defense correspondence regarding contraband underwear at Guantanamo Bay

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Department of Defense correspondence regarding contraband underwear at Guantanamo Bay  (2007) 
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
In August 2007, the Department of Defense accused attorney Clive Stafford-Smith of providing contraband underwear found on detainees, a claim which Smith ridiculed pointing out that all his visits were monitored, and the underwear was of the type commonly available to Military Interrogators, not lawyers.

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
HEADQUARTERS, JOINT TASK FORCE GUANTANAMO
U.S. NAVAL BASE, GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA

APO AE 09360

August 12, 2007
Mr. Clive Stafford-Smith
636 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 70113

Re: Discovery of Contraband Clothing in the Cases of Shaker Aamer, Detainee ISN 239, and Muhammed Hamid al-Qareni, Detainee ISN 269

Dear Mr. Stafford Smith,

Your client Shaker AAmer, detainee ISN 239, was recently discovered to be wearing UnderArmor briefs and a Speedo bathing suit. Neither item was issued to the detainee by JTF-Guantanamo personnel, nor did they enter the camp through regular mail. Coincidentally,Muhammed Hamid al-Qareni, detainee ISN 269, who is represented by Mr. Katznelson of Reprieve, was also recently discovered to be wearing Under Armor briefs. As with detainee ISN 239, the briefs were not issued by JTF-Guantanamo personnel, nor did they enter the camp through regular mail.

We are investigating this matter to determine the origins of the above contraband and ensure that parties who may have been involved understand the seriousness of this transgression. As I am sure you understand, we cannot tolerate contraband being surreptitiously brought into the camp. Such activities threaten the safety of the JTF-Guantanamo staff, the detainees, and visiting counsel.

In furtherance of our investigation, we would like to know whether the contraband material, or any portion thereof, was provided by you, anyone else on your legal team, or anyone associated with Reprieve. We are compelled to ask these questions in light of the coincidence that two detainees represented by counsel associated with Reprieve were found wearing the same contraband underwear.

Thank you as always for your cooperation and assistance,

Sincerely,
Commander    , JAGC, U.S. Navy
Staff Judge Advocate

29th August. 2007
Commander    
Staff Judge Advocate
Headquarters. Joint Task Force Guantanamo
U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo. Cuba
APO AR 09360

Re: The Issue of Underwear ("Discovery of 'Contraband Clothing ' in the Cases of Shaker Aamer (ISN 239) and Mohammed al Gharani (ISN 269) ")

Dear Cmdr.  :

Thank you very much for your letter dated August 12. 2007. which I received yesterday. In it. you discuss the fact that Mr. Aamer was apparently wearing 'Under Armor briefs' and some Speedo swimming trunks and that, by coincidence, Mr. el Gharani was also sporting "Under Armor briefs".

I will confess that I have never received such an extraordinary letter in my entire career. Knowing you as I do. I hope you understand that I do not attribute this allegation to your personally. Obviously, however. I take accusations that I may have committed a criminal act very seriously. In this case, I hope you understand how patently absurd it is. and how easily it could be disproven by the records in your possession. I also hope you understand my frustration at yet another unfounded accusation against lawyers who are simply trying to do their job - a job that involves legal briefs, not the other sort.

Let me briefly respond: first, neither I, nor Mr. Katznelson, nor anyone else associated with us has had anything to do with smuggling 'unmentionables' into these men. nor would we ever do so.

Second, the idea that we could smuggle in underwear is farfetched. As you know, anything we take in is searched and there is a camera in the room when we visit the client. Does someone seriously suggest that Mr. Katznelson or I have been stripping off to deliver underpants to our clients?

Third, your own records prove that nobody associated with my office has seen Mr. Aamer for a full year. Thus, it is physically impossible for us to have delivered anything to him that recently surfaced on his person. Surely you do not suggest that in your maximum security prison, where Mr. Aamer has been held in solitary confinement almost continuously since September 24, 2005, and where he has been more closely monitored than virtually any prisoner on the Base, your staff have missed the fact that he has been wearing both Speedos and "Under Armor for 12 months?

Since your records independently establish that neither I nor Mr. Katznelson could not have been the one who delivered such undergarments to Mr. Aamer, this eliminates any "coincidence" in the parallel underwear sported by Mr. el Gharani. Your letter implies, however, that Mr. Katznelson might have something to do with Mr. el Gharani's underthings. Mr. Katznelson has not seen Mr. el Gharani for four months. As you know. Mr. el Gharani has been forced to strip naked in front of a number of military personnel on more than one occasion, and presumably someone would have noticed his apparel then.

Without bringing this up with me. it was therefore patently clear that my office had nothing to do with this question of lingerie. However, I am unwilling to allow the issue of underwear to drop there: It seems obvious that the same people delivered these items to both men. and it does not take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that that members of your staff (either the militar)' or the interrogators) did it. Getting to the bottom of this would help ensure that in future there is no shadow of suspicion cast on the lawyers who are simply trying to do their job. so I have done a little research to help you in your investigations.

I had never heard of 'Under Armor briefs' until you mentioned them, and my internet research has advanced my knowledge in two ways - first. Under Armour apparently sports a 'U' in its name, which is significant only because it helps with the research.

Second, and rather more important, this line of underpants are very popular among the military. One article referred to the fact that "A specialty clothing maker is winning over soldiers and cashing in on war. " See http://aovexec.com/fcalures/1005-15/1005-15na4.htm (emphasis in original). The article goes on to say:

In August [2005]. a Baltimore-based clothier popular among military service

members got in on the trend. * * * Founded in 1996. Under Armour makes a line of tops, pants, shorts, underwear and other "performance apparel" designed for a simple purpose: to keep you warm in the cold and cool in the

heat.

This stuff is obviously good for the men and women stationed in the sweaty climate of Guantanamo. as we could all attest.

It would be worth checking whether this lingerie was purchased from the NEX there in GTMO. since the internet again leads one to suspect that the NEX would be purveyors of Under Armour:

Tom Byrne. Under Armour's director of new business development, told Army Times that "The product has done very well in PXes across the country and in the Middle East, and we have seen an increasing demand month after month. There is clearly a need for a better alternative than the standard-issue cotton T-shirt."

There must be other clues as to the provenance of these underpants. Perhaps you might check the label to see whether these are tactical' underwear, as this is apparently something Under Armour has created specially for the military: Under Armour has a line of apparel called Tactical that's modified for soldiers. It features the same styles as civilian tops and bottoms - LooseGear for all purpose conditions. HeatGear and ColdGear, meant for hot and cold weather, as well as a line for women. But Tactical items are offered in army brown, olive drab, midnight navy and traditional black and white. Also, the Tactical section of the Under Armour Web site features military models, not athletes. In one image, a soldier poised on one knee wears a LooseGear shirt, looking as if he'd just as soon take a hill as take off on a run. His muscular arms protrude from the tight, olive-colored fabric. He's a picture of soldierliness. And he's totally dry.

Id. I don't know the color of the underpants sported by Messrs. Aamer and el Gharani, but that might give you a few tips. Indeed, I feel sure that your staff would be able to give you better information on this than I could (though I have done my best) as this Under Armour stuff apparently provokes rave reviews from your colleagues:

Soldier testimonials are effusive. On Amazon.com, a convenient place to buy Under Armour online, a customer who calls himself Spc. Sublett says he's stationed in Afghanistan. Although his identity cannot be verified, Sublett does note the Tactical line's less apparent benefits. "Sometimes I have to go long times in hot weather without showers. Under Armour prevents some of the nasty side effects of these extreme conditions. All of my buddies out here use the same thing. They're soldier-essential equipment. The only thing that would make them better is if the Army would issue them."

I don't mean to say that it is an open and shut case proving that your military provided the underwear, as 1 understand that other people use Under Armour. One group I noticed on the web were the amateur weight lifters, who seem confused as to whether Under Armour give them a competitive advantage. See. e.g.. http://uohcaxT.com/forums/colforunì/index.cai/noframcs/iead/66l ("i was wondering what the rule on Under Armour is? I wear the briefs with my squat suit - it makes it soooo much easier to get over my thighs. My first USAPL meet is coming up and I wanted to get that squared away before I show up. -Thanks Andy Obermann"). However, in the grand scheme of things. I would think we can all agree that the interrogators or military officers are more likely to have access to Messrs. Aamer and el Gharani than the U.S. Amateur Power Lifting Association.

On the issue of Speedo swimming trunks, my research really does not help very much. I cannot imagine who would want to give my client Speedos. or why. Mr. Aamer is hardly in a position to go swimming, since the only available water is the toilet in his cell.

I should say that your letter brought to mind a sign in the changing room of a local swimming pool, which showed someone diving into a lavatory, with the caption. "We don't swim in your toilet, so please don't pee in our pool". I presume that nobody thinks that Mr. Aamer wears Speedos while paddling in his privy.

Please assure me that you are satisfied that neither I nor my colleagues had anything to do with this. In light of the fact that you felt it necessary to question whether we had violated the rules. I look forward to hearing the conclusion of your investigation. (It is faster to send me e-mails at ---[1]. than use the rather lethargic postal system.)

All the best,

Clive A. Stafford Smith

Notes[edit]

  1. [eMail removed by Wikisource]
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