The main issue that was argued the last week of January was whether or not a female guard should be permitted to have contact with a detainee. Practical concerns were raised in regards to religion. With Islam, it is taboo to be touched by a female that a man is not related to or married to. Several witnesses were called, including the female guard at issue. Steps were taken to preserve her anonymity and there was no personally identifiable information that was given about her. She testified as to how her job required her to handle the detainee. Arguments were made that went to whether or not allowing females to touch detainees would hinder that females’ advancement in her career, whether or not the defendant’s religious views were being violated, whether or not suitable male replacements could easily be found, etc.
I think the real issue, that was never broached, is whether the commission actually has the jurisdiction to rule on this matter with regards to general handling while in custody down at Gitmo. This hinges on how broadly the court interprets the defense’s request for touching to cease. Defense tried to argue for all touching, period, to cease. The judge cannot rule on what happens outside of court related proceedings, and even then, how far does his authority reach? Does it apply to court related medical exams? Transfers from the detention facility to the court holding facilities prior to coming into the court room? Anything further is speculation and a ruling has not been handed down yet by the judge, but I will definitely be interested to see how this comes out.
(Margaret Baumgartner, Hadi al Iraqi Hearings, January 25-31, 2015)