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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Zip code 09360: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba aka "Gitmo"

Jeannie Ralston of National Geographic recently visted Gitmo:

The night before I left for one of the most controversial spots on the planet, the movie A Few Good Men was on television. "I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me," Jack Nicholson's Marine colonel snarled at Demi Moore. The chilling monologue underscored how very much has changed at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. When the movie came out in 1992, Guantanamo was famous as the only American base in a communist country. Today, with no threat from the Red Menace, Guantanamo gets its notoriety from 550 detainees—allegedly members of al Qaeda or the Taliban—who arrived in early 2002. The original plan was to interrogate the men and prosecute the worst before military tribunals, yet three years later few have been brought to trial. Critics question the decision to classify the detainees as enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war, which exempts them from the provisions of the Geneva Conventions—allowing for more coercive interrogations and indefinite detention. Once a relic of the Cold War, Guantanamo has suddenly become, in the words of its commander, Capt. Les McCoy, "the most highly visible U.S. base in the world."

Facts about U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay:

  • Established in 1898, when the U.S. obtained control of Cuba from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War.

  • Size of Naval Base: 45 sq. miles of land and water

  • Operating Cost: $162 million per year

  • Base Population in 2000: 2,800 -- 2004: 9,500

  • Detention Capacity: 1,200 inmates

  • Total Number of Detainees Held Since January 11, 2002: 750

  • Date Camp Delta first occupied: April 28, 2002

  • Date Camp X-Ray closed: April 29, 2002

  • Date of first Red Cross visit: January 17, 2004

  • Current Number of Detainees Held: about 540

  • Nationalities Among Detainees: 41

  • Interrogation Hours: Around the clock

  • Reported Suicide Attempts: 34

ZipUSA: 09360 - Serving time at Guantanamo Bay. [National Geographic, April 2005]
Guantanamo Bay [wikipedia.org]
Camp X-Ray (temporary detention facility) [wikipedia.org]
Guantanamo Bay - Camp X-Ray [GlobalSecurity.org]
Guantanamo Bay - Camp Delta [GlobalSecurity.org]

CBS News reported on March 11, 2005:
the military has released 211 detainees from Guantanamo, including 146 who were freed outright plus the 62 who were transferred to the control of their home government.

In making these transfers, the U.S. government sets conditions, sometimes requiring that the detainee be held by their home country, and, in some cases, seeking protections regarding their treatment while in prison there.

Not all detainees at Guantanamo are eligible for transfer, officials said. Some, if freed, would remain a threat to U.S. interests, and several already freed from Guantanamo have returned to terrorist groups, officials said.

Some are also still supplying useful intelligence to interrogators, officials said.

Abdul Ghaffar, captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, was one of twenty-three prisoners released from Camp Delta in late January of 2004. After his release, he rejoined the remnants of the Taliban in Afghanistan and was killed in a gunfight in late September of 2004.

Articles regarding the identity, interrogation and treatment of detainees:

Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Washington Post]
U.S. Wants Fewer Gitmo Detainees [CBSNews.com, March 11, 2005]
3-Star General To Lead Gitmo Probe [CBSNews.com, Feb. 28, 2005]
Detainees Accuse Female Interrogators [Washington Post, Feb. 10, 2005]
Et Tu, Gitmo? [Worldpress.org, Jan. 10, 2005]
Taleban Leader Killed in Afghanistan was in Guantanamo Bay Prison [voanews.com, Sept. 27, 2004]
Waiting for Gitmo [MotherJones.com, Jan/Feb 2004]

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