A Navy officer testified on Tuesday that microphones disguised as smoke detectors were installed in the rooms where suspected terrorists meet with their lawyers. It's unclear who put the microphones there — not that many people have access to those rooms, however — and the military has denied their existence in the past. But don't worry. The officer swears they never used them.
Captain Thomas J. Welsh, a staff judge at Guantanamo, found out about the microphones when he caught a "law enforcement official" eavesdropping on a confidential meeting between a detainee and his lawyer last January. Within months, defense attorneys in the 9/11 trial hearings were calling for military officials to own up to the practice, as Rear Admiral David Woods said that "no microphones are installed to ensure privacy between the attorney and client is maintained. A judge gave the green light to an investigation, however, after somebody — probably the CIA — switched off the microphones during a hearing last month, effectively censoring the trial. There wasn't anybody keep Welsh quiet, though.
It's sort of a half-hearted victory for the defense, though. Welsh swears that nobody actually used the microphones. "Under my watch, definitely, we don't listen in," he said. Even if people actually believe that, the fact that top brass flatly denied the existence of surveillance equipment in the Guantanamo meeting rooms is yet another blemish on the detention facility's public image. Another officer testified on Tuesday that he was "concerned about the perception of unethical conduct" after being ordered to open and inspect all of the detainees incoming mail. A lot of cynical Americans might think, "Those guys blew up the World Trade Center, so who cares if they're getting spied on." Let's not forget that the whole reason Guantanamo exists is to maintain the integrity of our country's due process.
To think, Guantanamo wasn't even supposed to exist at this point. But instead, it's been given yet another opportunity to embarrass the nation.