Guantanamo order barring touching by women guards harmful: commander

A guard walks through a cellblock inside Camp V, a prison used to house detainees at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/BOB STRONG

(Reuters) – A Guantanamo Bay military court order banning female guards from touching an accused al Qaeda commander harms soldiers’ morale and security at the prison, the commander of the prison’s secret lockup for former CIA captives testified on Wednesday.

The November interim order bars female guards from touching Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, who faces war crimes charges. Iraqi, who is accused of leading attacks in Afghanistan, says that being touched by women guards violates his Muslim faith.

The commander of Camp Seven, the secret part of the prison in Cuba where the United States keeps former Central Intelligence Agency captives, said the order by Judge Navy Captain J.K. Waits had made guard scheduling difficult and had sent female soldiers’ morale plummeting.

“We have a motto, ‘One team, one fight.’ Now I have one male team and one female team,” said the Army National Guard military police officer. He testified under a pseudonym during a hearing to determine whether the interim order should stand…