Guantanamo Commander Transferring To California

Published February 15, 2012 2:00PM (EST)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison who imposed a new security review on legal mail that angered defense lawyers will be transferred to a new post in Southern California, a military spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Rear Adm. David Woods, who has been in charge of the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba since Aug. 24, will oversee the training of members of an aviation strike force in Naval Base Coronado near San Diego, California, Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese said.

Woods' replacement and departure date have not been named. Reese said he is likely to remain at his post for some time and that he will still serve at Guantanamo for about a year, the typical length for a commander of the prison. She said the transfer is not related to his clash with defense attorneys representing prisoners charged with war crimes over the new rule on legal mail.

"It's normal career progression," Reese said by phone from Guantanamo. "It's a great job for him."

The Guantanamo Bay detention center has had 11 commanders since it opened in January 2002. It now holds 171 men, including several dozen who are expected to face war crimes prosecutions.

Woods angered defense lawyers with a December order that required a team that includes law enforcement and intelligence officers to review legal mail to prisoners charged with war crimes to ensure prisoners do not receive prohibited materials or information. The chief defense counsel told attorneys that the rule violates their ethical codes and should not be followed. The rule is being challenged in court.

By Salon Staff

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