Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer Camp With Steve and Jackie

At the top of the hour Thursday morning I had to hear Inskeep cheerily remark that NPR would visit Guantanamo where prisoners are "taking art classes, growing tomatoes, and learning English..." Inskeep also described the prisoners as "terror detainees."

Jackie Northam was the tour guide for this Potemkin trip to Gitmo where we heard from chummy US military personnel about the inmates of Camp 4 - the "highly compliant" inmates who get to stay outside their cells, use basketball and soccer facilities, take art classes, garden and learn English.

There were a few details missing in this story about current conditions at Guantanamo. Somehow Jackie missed out on the rough and tumble fun of detainee v. Immediate Reaction Force games. She could have found a redacted history of these brave competitors at the UC-Davis Human Rights Center or talked with one of the detainee players. Amazingly, Jackie also missed the family-style feedings attended by 10% of Guantanamo "terror detainees."

Maybe I'm not being fair to Jackie and Steve. After all, change is in the air (not), summer is almost here, and things are just so much improved at Guantanamo...aren't they?


WarOnWarOff said...

The camp with a differance
Never mind the weather
When you come to Gitmo,
The holiday's forever!

WarOnWarOff said...

Or perhaps, it's a little more like Theresienstadt.

Theresienstadt was originally designated to be seen to house privileged Jews from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. Many educated Jews were inmates of Theresienstadt, and the camp was publicized by the Nazis for its rich cultural life - this was simply a masque to conceal the horror of the place. At least four concert orchestras were forced to operate in the camp, as well as chamber groups and jazz ensembles. Several stage performances were produced and attended by camp inmates compelled to do so in order that an acceptable face of the holocaust could be presented to the world. Some prominent artists from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany were imprisoned there. There were artists, writers, scientists and jurists, diplomats, musicians, and scholars.

The community in Theresienstadt tried to ensure that all the children who passed through continued with their education. Though the Nazis decreed that all camp children over a certain age must be gainfully employed, working on stage was considered employment, and the children's education often continued under the guise of work or cultural activity. Daily classes and sports activities were held and the magazine Vedem was edited there. This affected some 15,000 children, of whom only about 1,100 survived to the end of the war. Other estimates place the number of the surviving children as low as 100.

Artist and art teacher Friedl Dicker-Brandeis created drawing classes for children in the ghetto. This activity resulted in the production of over four thousands children's drawings, which Dicker-Brandeis hid in two suitcases before being sent to Auschwitz. This collection was thus preserved from destruction by the Nazis and was not discovered until a decade later.

Anonymous said...

There almost certainly are some hardened terrorists at Guantanamo (like the guy who planned the 9/11 attacks), so the government should have no trouble proving their case and then locking these people up (legally) for the rest of their lives, right?

Why don't they?

The very existence of Gunatanamo is essentially tantamount to an admission of a combination of incompetence and laziness.

Whatever else it may be, Guantanamo is a clear effort to circumvent the laws and other restrictions placed on interrogation and incarceration.

First, expert interrogators say that torture is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.
From Independent

"Torture? It probably killed more Americans than 9/11

A US major reveals the inside story of military interrogation in Iraq. By Patrick Cockburn, winner of the 2009 Orwell Prize for journalism
"The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq."
/// end quote

Second, expert prosecutors put people behind bars every day, often based on circumstantial evidence.

Criminals are locked up all the time for far less serious crimes than the murder of 3000 people in the Twin Towers.

Perhaps what the US really needs is to put some competent professionals in charge (what a novel idea), who will be able and willing to

1) sort the good guys from the bad guys -- ie, differentiate the terrorist from the Afghani farmer who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and was "sold" as a terrorist by some guy trying to make a quick buck in Afghanistan.

2) actually go about interrogation in a professional, intelligent (and legal) manner to get information from the real terrorists without breaking all the laws against torture.

I don't think that's too much to ask.

So what is the problem here?

Finding good, smart people?

Good grief.

There are LOTS of highly intelligent, highly competent people in the US who would almost certainly do a better job than the people have been mucking things up so badly for the past 8 years.

larry, dfh said...

There almost certainly are some hardened terrorists at Guantanamo (like the guy who planned the 9/11 attacks)...
Oh really? They locked up the pnac? Larry silverman? I must have missed that. If you're writing about k.s.m., then you are definitely writing for yourself. I doubt anything my govt. tells me about the "Twin Towers", and I doubt k.s.m. will ever appear in an OPEN court where we all can hear his testamony. You're watching too much T.V.

Anonymous said...

larry, dfh

I don't watch TV. Don't even own one.

But I'd have to say that watching too much TV (even Fox) is probably better than visiting too many conspiracy sites on the web.

larry, dfh said...

Sorry about the tv accusation. But in all seriousness, I'd much prefer to be a conspiracy theorist than a coincidence advocate.
Actually, I'm a professional scientist; I spend long hours abserving and trying to make connection in the various experiments I run. When I see what occurred in New York that day, and then see the patriot act, already written, rammed through the congress a couple of weeks later, I think I know what experiment was conducted. Of course some people would look at that as a coincidence.

biggerbox said...

Now that Jackie Northern has come into contact with the dangerous people at Gitmo, how can we possibly release her into this country??!! Surely she has been radicalized, and is a danger. We can't just let her go free to do ... whatever, here in America.

I think she should be held there until we find a foreign country willing to take her.