Detainee Communications Opposed

Terrorism suspects on a hunger strike at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should not be allowed to speak in person or even by telephone with relatives and friends because of security risks, the government argued in federal court yesterday.

Attorneys for a group of hunger strikers said the detainees might be persuaded through such discussions to resume eating and drinking. The inmates have pledged to starve themselves to death unless they are released or brought to trial after more than three years at the U.S. facility in Cuba.

Terry Henry, a Justice Department lawyer, told U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler that one relative tried sending a detainee a DVD that named various people who had died or were in jail, raising concerns about whether some kind of message was being sent. The disc was not cleared and not delivered to the detainee.

Henry suggested that the government does not have the resources to monitor detainee phone calls.

Lawyers for the hunger strikers, who allege inhumane and cruel treatment at the camp, are seeking more frequent access to their clients and copies of their medical records. Some of the detainees have been fasting since Aug. 8.

Henry dismissed such allegations of abuse as "storytelling and misunderstanding." As of late Thursday, 24 detainees were rejecting food and drink, Henry said. Seven were hospitalized and being force-fed through nose-to-stomach tubes. Some of the other 17 detainees were also not eating or drinking but were not yet being fed against their will, Henry said.

U.S. Marshals Seize Medical Devices

Baxter International Inc. may not have properly informed U.S. regulators about the failures of its Colleague infusion pumps, a violation of federal law, the Food and Drug Administration said.

At the FDA's request, U.S. marshals seized hundreds of devices -- used to give pain medication, fluids and other drugs intravenously -- from two of Baxter's warehouses on Oct. 12. The devices were not manufactured under proper conditions and some have a design defect that may cause the pumps to inexplicably shut down, the FDA said in a statement.

"FDA inspections revealed that the firm has continually failed to follow medical device manufacturing requirements," the agency statement said. "Further, FDA believes Baxter failed to inform FDA of the Colleague infusion pump failures, in violation of the Medical Device Reporting regulation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act."

Bush Nominates Deputy for Bolton

President Bush nominated Alejandro Daniel Wolff to serve as deputy to Ambassador John R. Bolton, a post that would put him second in command at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Wolff is a career Foreign Service officer who had been deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Paris for the past four years. Before that, he was an executive assistant to then-Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and Colin L. Powell.

-- From News Services