In the eye of Camp X-Ray storm

BBC News Online talks to the Welsh-American at the centre of the storm over the X-Ray terrorist prison camp

As a child in Wyoming, he listened to Calon Lan on scratchy 78s from a far and distant land.

On Wednesday, he was receiving a tongue-lashing from MPs over the US Government’s treatment of al-Quaeda terrorist suspects in Cuba before trial.

Glyn Davies is the Welsh-American heading the fight in Britain to bring the radical international network to justice at Camp X-Ray.

At his desk off London’s Oxford Street, the US Embassy minister and former American security chief is closer to his family’s roots in Newport.

And closer to the wrath of backbench MPs furious at human rights abuses they claim are demonstrated in pictures from the camp.

Landed the role, at Ambassador William Farish’s side, of maintaining the straining “special relationship” between Brits and Yanks, Mr Davies on Wednesday was impressed by Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd.

She led a host of disgruntled politicians and concerned British Muslims meeting the official – hours later, the US suspended terrorist transfers to Cuba while the base is extended.

Roots map

During a gap in a frantic round of meetings, Mr Davies – whose grandfather left Wales at the turn of the 20th century – said: “From an early age, my father imbued in me an appreciation and love of Wales, so I grew up listening to choirs.

“He took me there for an extended vacation as a teenager and I fell even further in love with the place.

“The luck of the draw brings me back closer to Wales, so I’m within striking distance.”

He joined the embassy in 1999 after a distinguished career path leading through America’s National Security Council, State Department and Washington’s National War College.

But the choir enthusiast says the next phase for Wales is to reacquaint expatriates with a country now attracting solid high-tech investment.

Homeward bound

The man pulling the strings on Britain’s American relations after 11 September regularly meets First Minister Rhodri Morgan and plays an active part in the growing London Welsh community.

There are, he says, Americans who are not aware of their Welsh heritage and those who live and breathe their apparent homeland.

“I’m probably sliding into the Welshophile category, being smitten with the place,” he adds, his accent showing not a trace of Wales.

“I have to admit, I do get quite romantic about it.

“I’ve always encouraged my friends at the Welsh Development Agency to exploit King Arthur’s Wales.”

With a different hat on, the embassy minister promised to take straight to Washington Ann Clwyd’s concerns over treatment of four British-born prisoners.

The X-Ray detainees are the most dangerous al-Quaeda members and can lead to the network’s “kingpins,” he says.

And Mr Davies denied Ms Clwyd’s delegation had bullied the US into later suspending flights to the camp.

Camp requirements

“I believe how this will ultimately be viewed will depend on what we collectively learn about these people and what they have collectively done,” he adds.

“Al-Quaeda remains a 50-nation terrorist conspiracy that we are beginning to get at.”

Further photograph evidence of alleged mistreatment could make MPs more angry still about the policy.

Bu the official who cites Wales as the land of his fathers is adamant the detentions are necessary and essential if justice is to be the response to the attacks back in the States on 11 September.

He is sure al-Quaeda suspects will find no welcome in US hillsides.