July 12, 2005

Military replaces fired Guantanamo commander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new commander has been named for
the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, site of the prison
for foreign terrorism suspects, after the previous one was
fired for unspecified "inappropriate" practices, the military
said on Tuesday.

Navy Capt. Lawrence Cotton was installed as Guantanamo base
commander on an interim basis, likely to last several months,
to replace Capt. Leslie McCoy until a permanent commander is
named, said Pat Dooling, a Navy spokesman in Jacksonville,

The base commander has no direct role in the detention of
the roughly 520 foreign citizens held as "enemy combatants" at
the Guantanamo prison, which is commanded by Brig. Gen. Jay
Hood and has been criticized by human rights groups.

Cotton's responsibilities include providing support to the
military force operating the prison, as well as serving as U.S.
liaison with the Cuban military and commanding an airstrip and
port, Dooling said.

McCoy was relieved by Rear Adm. Annette Brown, head of Navy
Region Southeast, following an investigation into "allegations
of inappropriate personnel and administrative management
practices," the military announced on Saturday. It said Brown
"lost confidence in his (McCoy's) ability to effectively lead,"
but gave no details of the inappropriate practices.

Cotton is Brown's chief of staff, said Dooling, who added
that McCoy was not expected to face criminal charges.

"His relief in no way is connected to detainee operations
or interface with Cuban officials," Dooling said.

McCoy's ouster was not the first at Guantanamo in recent
months. Three senior commanders at the prison were removed in
March for "personal misconduct" that did not involve prisoners.