Saturday, February 21, 2009

Window Dressing

In light of the report this week that Guantanamo conforms with the Geneva conventions (and therefore it is quite ok for other countries to keep our civilians and military personnel in similar conditions) I would like to mention two things... well actually more than two things but right now I will restrict myself to these two. First, there have been many changes at Guantanamo during the last approximately six weeks. Not the kind of changes that would make you say "hey, this really is not a bad place." but the kind of changes that show just how horrendous things were in camp 6 (I can't speak to 5) and how the military really needed to do a few things pretty quickly when the Obama administration was coming in: in camp 6, they have now started "movie night". Imagine my surprise when Mr. Al-Ghizzawi mentioned a movie he was watching the week before my arrival (I saw him the 4th of February). I actually stopped him in mid-thought and said "excuse me, movie night? When did that start?" He then explained that they have had movie nights once a week for a couple of weeks. I of course asked if there was anything else that was new and he told me that the four cages that were the outdoor rec area for camp 6 were torn down and now there was one big cage and one little cage.... now 8 men can go out together in the big cage and the small cage is for prisoners on punishment. How sad it is that this is a major improvement but it is... it gives the men a chance to socialize.... a chance to be a part of humanity, instead of being stuck in total isolation. The last change he told me about was the opening of a new rec area... completely outside of camp 6, a rec area where they can actually see the mountains in the distance, the trees, the sky, the sun (for four hours once every four or five days). The camp 6 rec area is confined to the courtyard of camp 6, so it is surrounded by the concrete facility that is several stories tall, all they could see in that outdoor area was the sand floor and the concrete building.
The second thing I want to mention is just how dishonest this is... (what a surprise, huh?) and I wonder if the Obama people will continue with this charade? I understand that Gates is still secretary of defense so it does not paint a pretty picture to announce that your secretary of defense is guilty of violating the Geneva conventions but hey, do we really want to say that the way these men have been held and treated is just fine?
Unfortunately when it comes to the litigation there is no window dressing.... same old, same old.
More on that later...

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