US military says number of Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike has dropped to 75 from 106

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The number of inmates on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison has dropped to 75 from a peak of 106 last week, and even most of the men still listed as strikers ate a meal in the last day, the U.S. military said Thursday in its latest tally of the protest that began in February.

Army Lt. Col. Sam House said in a phone interview from Guantanamo that 67 of those 75 inmates had eaten a meal during the previous 24 hours at the prison, which is currently serving food at night during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, which lasts through early August.

The 67 detainees are still listed as hunger strikers because the U.S. military requires a minimum of three days of sustained eating and a minimal caloric intake before they can be removed from the tally. But House said the main factor must be that a prisoner wishes to be removed from the hunger strike list.

The strike has prompted President Barack Obama to criticize the force-feedings and renew his efforts to close the prison, which houses 166 inmates.

On Tuesday, a U.S. federal judge turned down a bid by three Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike to stop authorities from force-feeding them. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled she didn’t have jurisdiction in the case because Congress removed Guantanamo detainees’ treatment and conditions of confinement from the purview of federal courts. She also said there was “nothing so shocking or inhumane in the treatment” that would raise a constitutional concern.

Pentagon: 9/11 ‘mastermind’ did not get henna or other dye to color his beard at Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The Pentagon has given a partial explanation to a Guantanamo mystery: How the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks managed to dye his beard.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s bushy grey beard has been colored a rusty orange during court appearances. Spectators had assumed he used henna, which is used by some Muslims as a hair dye.

A Pentagon spokesman says Mohammed used “natural means,” such as juice from berries that he receives in his meals. Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said Tuesday that Mohammed did not receive any “outside” means to color his beard.

Mohammed is kept under such heavy security that his lawyers can’t even reveal routine conversations with their client.

He is charged with four other prisoners with aiding and planning the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.