MEXICO CITY – A complaint lodged with the Pentagon has prompted the U.S. Navy to look into the possible presence of anything that may cause cancer in a section of the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a military spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center and other officials are looking into "concerns about possible carcinogens," in the section of the base where prisoners are put on trial by military commission, according to base spokeswoman Kelly Wirfel.
A complaint made to the Department of Defense Inspector General prompted the Navy to look into the matter, Wirfel said. The identity of the person who lodged the complaint has not been disclosed.
The military commission site is on a former airfield and includes courtrooms as well as offices for lawyers and support staff, some of whom have worked there for extended periods as the legal proceedings have dragged on over the years. The area known as "Camp Justice" also includes sleeping quarters used by military personnel and civilians.
Lawyers who have worked there say there appear to have been a relatively large number of cases of cancer among people who have worked there over the years. An obituary from Canada's Postmedia News Agency reported Monday that U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, who defended Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr for several years, died July 17 at age 44 from an unspecified form of cancer.
Wells Dixon, who has worked at Guantanamo as a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, said attorneys have compiled a list of more than 20 people who have become "gravely ill" after spending significant amounts of time living and working there.