Sunday, December 20, 2009

"The nondescript faces of the foosball table's characters have been chipped off ..."

Thomas Joscelyn has a neat read in this week's Weekly Standard entitled "The Real Gitmo." It's full of interesting facts about the day to day life of Gitmo and the extraordinary measures that are taken there to keep the detainees as content as possible.

Joscelyn recently toured the facility and shares his observations. Much like Gordon Cucullu's book, Inside Gitmo, it's a fascinating look at the facility itself and the men and women who operate it.

Some interesting facts:

"...most of the roughly 210 detainees still held at GuantĂĄnamo are not in supermax-type facilities at all. At least 70 percent live in communal settings like Camp 4. They can play soccer, basketball, or foosball; exercise on elliptical equipment; and consort with their fellow detainees for up to 20 hours per day in the outdoor recreation area. They can take art classes or learn English."

The detainees have access to several satellite television channels and, as one DoD handout notes, a library consisting of "more than 14,000 books, magazines, and DVDs in 18 languages."

Oddly, the detainees are interested in many aspects of Western culture. Harry Potter is very popular, and with each new movie that comes out the detainees request more of J.K. Rowling's books.

They have also gone out of their way to make sure that the detainees are not exposed to any other material they may find objectionable. For example, the nondescript faces of the foosball table's characters have been chipped off so that the detainees will not be offended by any hint of idolatry.

There's a lot more. Be sure to read the whole thing. The more one learns about the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the more one questions the Obama perseverance in closing it down. As Joscelyn points out, yes, some mistakes were made in the early days, but those have long been rectified. Today it is a model prison run according to Geneva standards, or better, and for the most part, the detainees are content. We continue to gather intelligence from them, but only when they volunteer to give it.

It's all about re-inventing the wheel, I guess. And the rationale behind it all is misguided - al Qaeda does not use Guantanamo as a recruiting too anymore than they use Israel or any other little thing they can dream up. Nobody will like us better for having closed it.

Especially not the detainees who will find themselves isolated in Supermax American prisons.

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