A U.S. Army officer on Tuesday defended her decision to use female guards at Guantanamo Bay's top-secret Camp 7, where Muslim prisoners say physical contact with unrelated women is an affront to their religion.

The officer, a former commander of Camp 7 whose name was not disclosed, told a court at the base in Cuba that she started to use women to transport prisoners in 2014 due to a shortage of guards with the proper training and security clearance amid an increased demand to move men about the detention center for legal meetings and hearings before judges.

That move prompted outrage among some of the prisoners in Camp 7, including the five men facing trial by military commission for their alleged roles planning and supporting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Lawyers for the men said they began refusing to attend meetings or to cooperate with their defense, making the issue yet another obstacle in frequently stalled legal proceedings against the men.

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