By Jenny Stanton
An order banning female guards at Guantanamo Bay from transporting five detainees suspected of being involved in the September 11 attacks has been branded 'outrageous'.
A military judge issued an order in January prohibiting female guards from transporting the defendants, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after they refused to meet with defense lawyers and complained that any physical contact with unrelated women violated their Muslim beliefs.
The ruling by Army Colonel James Pohl was meant to deal with their complaints, which posed a threat to legal proceedings.
Questioned on the ruling at a congressional hearing, both Marine General Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter said it was an outrage.
'I think it is counter to the way we treat service members, including women service members, and outrage is a very good word for it,' Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Dunford said: 'It is outrageous. It ought to be fixed. It hasn't been to date.'
Senator Kelly Ayotte, who traveled to Guantanamo on Friday with Senators Tim Scott and Shelley Moore Capito, all Republicans, pressed Dunford and Carter on the issue.
President Barack Obama has tried repeatedly to close the prison since he took office in January 2009, but he has met strong resistance from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said: 'I think it is counter to the way we treat service members, including women service members, and outrage is a very good word for it'
They argue that Guantanamo in Cuba is the only viable option, especially for terror detainees deemed too dangerous to release or transfer to third countries.
At a news conference, Ayotte, Scott and Capito insisted that Guantanamo should remain open.
Ayotte also called on the administration to speak out on the guard issue, saying 'terrorists should not dictate what men and women can do when serving in the military'.
There are 114 detainees currently at Guantanamo, and 54 are eligible for transfer.
The Republican lawmakers rejected the idea of moving the terror suspects to US facilities.
'It is the only place, the best place, the right place to house the remaining 114,' Capito told reporters.