- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003

A U.S. Army intelligence officer charged yesterday with violating security measures at the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was caught with “significant amounts of classified information” when his tour ended at the detention camp, a source close to the investigation has told The Washington Times.

Col. Jack Farr was charged with failing to obey a lawful order; more specifically, “wrongfully transporting classified material without the proper security container” on or about Oct. 11, said a statement from the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which oversees Guantanamo. The colonel also is charged with making a false statement during the course of the investigation over his handling of the material.

Col. Farr is an Army reservist serving with the 384th Military Police Battalion, part of which is assigned to a joint task force at the base. It wasn’t immediately clear what material Col. Farr collected, how it was discovered or what he intended to do with it.

A Guantanamo Bay military source told The Times last night that Col. Farr was “in possession of significant amounts of classified information when his tour ended at Guantanamo,” making him the fourth person charged in probes of possible espionage at the naval base prison, where some 660 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members apprehended in the U.S.-led war on terror are being detained.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Col. Farr’s tour of duty at Guantanamo had ended when the accusations surfaced.

“He was returned to active duty and brought back to Guantanamo, and he is there now,” the source said.

The source also said that since Col. Farr and investigators are at “loggerheads,” the investigation is “concluded,” and the Army charged Col. Farr in an apparent attempt to get information from him.

It was the fourth incident at the military base in which security measures were purportedly breached.

Capt. James J. Yee, the Muslim chaplain whose hearings are expected to begin tomorrow at Fort Benning, Ga., is charged with failure to obey an order, making a false official statement, conduct unbecoming an officer and one specification of adultery.

Capt. Yee was previously charged Oct. 10 with two counts of failing to obey a lawful order. He has not been charged with espionage.

Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, who served as a translator at the base for nine months before his arrest in July, faces 20 charges, including four counts of espionage and one of aiding the enemy. The Air Force general presiding over the court-martial said he would not pursue the death penalty.

Airman Al-Halabi pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The other translator accused in the Guantanamo spy probe is a civilian, Ahmad Fathy Mehalba, a U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent. Mr. Mehalba was arrested in Boston after returning from a trip to Egypt. He is being held in Massachusetts pending trial in federal court.

Mr. Mehalba, 31, who pleaded not guilty, is charged with lying to federal agents by denying the computer disks in his possession contained classified information from Guantanamo.

One of the disks reportedly contained a list of names mentioned during interrogation sessions with Guantanamo detainees.

According to the Southern Command statement, Col. Farr was serving a six-month stint as an intelligence officer at the camp.

He has been assigned two defense attorneys from the Army’s Trial Defense Service, but may obtain private counsel at his own expense.

The charges have been sent to the head of Col. Farr’s joint task force command who handles special court-martial hearings, the statement said. The commander can ask for pretrial investigation, drop the charges against Col. Farr or refer them to a special court-martial.

No details about what’s next for the colonel have been released.

The Guantanamo source said investigators hoped that by formally charging Col. Farr, they might obtain information from him about breaches of security in which he or others may have been involved.

• Guy Taylor reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico; Patti Shea reported from Washington.

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