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Reports: US Military to Give Red Cross Names of Terror Suspects

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In a first, the Pentagon is handing the International Committee of the Red Cross the names of militants held secretly at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Saturday. (AFP/DOD/File)

The US military has begun notifying the Red Cross of the identities of terror
suspects being held at camps in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to US media.

The change in military policy took effect early this month with no public
announcement, the New York Times reported, quoting unnamed officials.

The Red Cross would not comment on the report which claimed that it would be
given access to scores of foreign fighters held at the secret camps in the
two countries.

A military officer told the newspaper that the names and idenfication numbers
of prisoners held at 'temporary screening camps' in Balad in Iraq, and
Bagram in Afghanistan would be provided to the Red Cross within two weeks of
capture.

The Times reported that as many as 30 to 40 foreign prisoners have been held
at the camp in Iraq at any given time. It reported no estimate for the
Afghan camp but said it probably was smaller.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said he could not discuss any changes of
policy or specifics of handling detainees at the camps.

He said their purpose was temporarily to hold high-value targets to remove
them from the battlefield and to determine as quickly as possible if they
had information of immediate value to ongoing coalition military operations.

"They are not secret prisons," Mr Whitman said, adding that their
existence was disclosed to the host nations and to the Red Cross.

The move is a radical shift in policy for the Pentagon which has previously
said providing information about detainees could jeopardize
counter-terrorism efforts.

The shift in policy was set in motion by General David Petraeus shortly after
he took over as commander at U.S. Central Command in October, the newspaper
reported.

The policy change was made formal in the results this summer of a review
conducted by Air Force Lieutenant General Philip Breedlove, the military
officer said.

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