John Bogdan

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John Bogdan
Colonel John Bogdan
Colonel John Bogdan
Nationality United States
Occupation Military Police Officer
Known for Testified he was unaware Guantanamo meeting rooms were equipped to monitor captives and their lawyers
Bogdan testified he had not known that devices made to look like smoke detectors were actually listening devices, installed so intelligence analysts could eavesdrop on Guantanamo captives and their lawyers.

Colonel John Bogdan is an officer in the United States Army. In June 2012 he took over as commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Detention Group—a position sometimes called the camp's warden, from Colonel Donnie Thomas.[1]

In February 2013 attorneys representing Guantanamo captives had confirmed one of their long-standing concerns—that the rooms where Guantanamo captives met with their clients were bugged.[2] When Bogdan was called to testify about the rooms being bugged, he asserted that he had only recently been aware of the bugs—which had been hidden in innocuous looking smoke detectors. Bogdan said the bugs had been installed long before he assumed command. He denied any knowledge of the bugs being listened to recently, and implied that they may have been abandoned. Bogdan asserted that he had told guards "there was to be no audio monitoring of attorney-client meetings." When asked by the wiring to the bugs had recently been repaired he suggested that it may just have been for completeness, and did not confirm that the bugs were being recorded or listened to. Bogdan said he had recently locked up the power supplies for the bugs.

Colonel Donnie Thomas, Bogdan's predecessor, had been aware of the bugs.[3]

In early 2013 news broke that the most serious hunger strike in five years had begun.[4] Ben Fox, writing in Time magazine asserts an intensive search ordered by Bogdan was one of the triggers for the hunger strike.

On 5 August 2013, Jason Leopold, writing in Al Jazeera, reported that Bogdan's justification for intrusive genital searches was based on the idea that there was a risk that al Qaeda would launch a frontal attack on the prison.[5][6] Leopold had filed several requests to remove the redaction from claims Bogdan had made. The documents were not classified. The redactions had been justified on operational security grounds—that the camp in Cuba was at risk of a frontal attack by al Qaeda fighters.

On December 18, 2013, Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First reported that, during testimony at a Military Commission, Bogdan acknowledged that prior to serving as commander of Guantanamo's Joint Detention Group, Bogdan had commanded a clandestine prison in Somalia.[7] Eviatar described the Defense attorney concerns over new restrictions Bogdan had placed on their access to their clients, which she described as "unprecedented". Eviatar compared Bogdan's rules on attorney's access to their clients to those at US Bureau of Prisons Supermax prisons. Bogdan required attorney to apply 14 days in advance for an appointment to see their clients, while at Supermax prisons attorneys did not have to book appointments in advance. Bogdan restricted visiting hours to prior to 4 pm—prior to when many flights arrived on the distant base, while Supermax prisons allowed attorneys access to their clients up until 7 pm. Bogdan restricted the number of people who could meet with a captive to five, insufficient when defense attorney teams needed the help of paralegals and translators. Finally, Bogdan would allow no more than six captives to meet with their clients per day.


  1. ^ Lewis Hilburn (2 June 2012). "Warrior Six Signing Off". JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. During his first speech as JDG commander, Bogdan spoke with conviction. "I promise to strive for excellence in all that I do, and ask only the same in return," he said, adding that he looks forward to working with his new shipmates and is confident that this will be a memorable experience."
  2. ^ Jane Sutton (13 February 2013). "Guantanamo warden says he didn't know about microphones in meeting rooms". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Bogdan said he had been in the huts where those meetings took place five or six times but only learned earlier this month that what appeared to be smoke detectors on the ceilings were actually microphones. They had been installed long before his arrival and were part of an audio monitoring system maintained by "J2," the detention camp's intelligence component, Bogdan said.
  3. ^ Carol Rosenberg (12 February 2013). "Attorney-client meeting room was bugged, Navy lawyer testifies at Guantánamo". Guantanamo: Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 31 March 2013. Welsh is a career Navy attorney bound by the same ethics practices as civilian lawyers. He said he was so struck by the discovery of the capability eight months into his job as prison camps lawyer that he sought out the chief of the guard force, Army Col. Donnie Thomas, to gain assurances that nobody at Guantánamo was turning on the microphones to listen in on privileged attorney-client meetings.
  4. ^ Ben Fox (18 March 2013). "U.S. Says Hunger Strike Grows to 21 at Guantanamo". Time magazine. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Lawyers say the protest began Feb. 6, when a relatively new officer in charge of camp operations, Army Col. John Bogdan, ordered an intensive search of the communal pod-like area where a majority of detainees are held. Guards confiscated personal items such as family letters, photos and mail from attorneys. The prisoners also said government-issued Qurans were searched in a way they considered religious desecration.
  5. ^ Jason Leopold (5 August 2013). "Al-Qaeda might attack Guantanamo, claims US: Government lawyers seemingly unknowingly release information they say should remain secret". Los Angeles: Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. In a 13-page brief filed on Friday in federal court in Washington, DC, government lawyers assert that a June 3 declaration signed by Guantanamo prison warden Colonel John Bogdan, which sought to justify the rationale behind the genital search policy, contains details about "operational-security and force-protection procedures" that, if made public, "would better enable our enemies to attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo or undermine security at the facility".
  6. ^ Ronald Wiltsie (2 August 2013). "Respondent's opposition to the motion of Jason Leopold to intervene and unseal certain evidence". Department of Justice. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. Media related to File:John Bogdan on Guantanamo captives access to counsel.pdf at Wikimedia Commons
  7. ^ Daphne Eviatar (2013-12-18). "Guantanamo Prison Commander Previously Ran U.S. Detention in Somalia". Human Rights First. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-18. Bogdan didn't say when he was running detention operations in Somalia, which he characterized as "small." But he did distinguish "detention operations" from a "jail" or "corrections" facility, which he previously ran for the U.S. military in Germany.