Terror Inmates Endure Solitary Routine

Terror Inmates Endure Solitary Routine
May 15th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Terror Inmates Endure Solitary Routine

Terror Inmates Endure Solitary Routine
Miami Herald
May 15, 2007
Pg. 1

With most detainees living in windowless, steel and cement cells, life at the prison camps at Guantanamo has turned into a lockdown routine.
By Carol Rosenberg
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- AstroTurf for captives' soccer games is still in storage. Nearly all the cages on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean are empty. Detainees spend 22 or more hours a day inside cells of steel and concrete.
Nearly a year after an uprising in a communal camp for ''war on terrorism'' captives in this remote U.S. naval base in southeast Cuba, most detainees live in maximum-security lockdown -- in windowless, fluorescent-lighted cells -- a stark contrast to four years of open-air camp confinement.
And lockdown life amounts to this: five prayer calls a day; three meals handed through a slot in the cell door; two hours, at most, of solo recreation inside a pen, with four other captives in adjoining chain-link cages, and a once-a-week cell-door visit from a library cart.
Commanders have largely shelved an earlier vision of prisoner-of-war living that would have accommodated up to 400 captives deemed cooperative: bunkhouse-style sleeping, group meals, prayer -- and sports.
Today, fewer than 40 Afghans and Arabs are offered perks such as planting a tomato garden or small classes with a military-approved language tutor.
Instead, the vast majority of the 385 ''enemy combatants'' are living in structures modeled after U.S. prisons.
Guantánamo commanders contend that the prisoners -- while whiling away the hours in sultry, open-air cells -- were more easily able to conspire.
Violent period
The turning point toward single-occupancy lockdown conditions came a year ago, the most violent period the prison camps had ever seen.
On May 18, two captives were found unconscious in their open-air cells, attempting suicide from prescription drugs hoarded by other detainees. Later that day, dozens of detainees in minimum-security quarters ripped metal out of their communal bunkhouse three camps away and attacked guards.
No one was seriously hurt, but on June 10 guards spotted three Arabs simultaneously hanging in their cells from improvised nooses -- apparent suicides that the prison camps commander, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, declared "asymmetric warfare.''
Lawyers said the bunkhouse brawl was triggered by a source of repeated unrest across all five years -- speculation that guards would search their holy Korans, this time for hidden drugs.
Harris and intelligence officials cast it as a wake-up call to a dormant, conspiring and secret leadership bent on embarrassing the U.S. military, which boasts safe, humane and transparent conditions at the site.
''No matter what we do for them, they don't appreciate it,'' said an Arab named Zaki, the U.S. military's cultural advisor.
''It's a jail, a detention facility. What do you expect? To give them a key to their own cell?'' he added.
Amnesty International and detainees' attorneys liken the indoor, single-cell accommodations to solitary confinement, isolation they allege is causing many to go stir-crazy in what amounts to super-max conditions.
Moreover, they complain, an ever-evolving legal and detention framework allowing for indefinite detention without ever being tried, or convicted, compounds detainee despair.
But a Navy psychologist who goes by ''Dr. Jay'' counters that Guantánamo detainees are, overall, a mentally sound, motivated population typical of people with strong religious identities. It's an assessment that stands in sharp contrast to Amnesty's and attorneys' portrayals of a population steadily going insane.
Added Harris: "They're doing fine.''
Harris will depart later this month after a turbulent year of suicide and the arrival from CIA custody of 14 ''high-value detainees,'' among them alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
As if to counter the complaints, he notes that, in November, when a detainee overheard one guard telling another that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had submitted his resignation, the news swept through the 100-cell steel and cement building called Camp 5 in five minutes flat.
''They were happy about it,'' he said.
Super-max routine
Meanwhile, life for most detainees at the offshore detention center, which this summer marks its 2,000th day, has increasingly evolved into a routine resembling super-maximum conditions stateside:
Last week, 13 hunger strikers were shackled into steel chairs at ''feeding blocks,'' where medical staff snaked a tube up their noses and pumped nourishment directly into their stomachs.
Escort officers characterized the hunger strike as a run-of-the-mill protest. The most committed protester has been doing this for more than 600 days.
Doctors say 10 percent of the detainees have diagnosed mental health conditions, and 3 percent to 4 percent are on psychotropic drugs -- a figure commanders say falls below the U.S. national prison population norm.
And, after a request from the International Committee for the Red Cross, which doesn't discuss its complaints about conditions at the site, each detainee inside Camps 5 and 6 gets a monthly mental health visit -- an offer of counseling.
The lending library, which likes to note the enduring popularity of translated Harry Potter books, also reports that one of the most widely circulated Arabic titles is Don't Be Sad, categorized as "psychology based on the Koran.''
Commanders say detainees have adjusted to what Zaki called ''location shock'' -- their chilly, temperature-controlled environment -- and have learned to chat through the walls and under cracks in their doors to converse with other detainees at Camp 6, where each cell measures eight feet by 12 feet.
''They read. They exercise inside their cells. They drive the guards crazy by banging on the doors. They call the guards names, pick on you,'' Zaki said.
'Great volume'
Harris added that Camp 6 ''reverberates with a great volume of conversations,'' and round-the-clock movement to the recreation pens to permit each detainee his two hours a day, plus 15-minute showers.
A recent Wednesday afternoon visit seemed to support this.
In one block, two detainees could be plainly seen pacing back and forth in their cells -- walking 10 feet, turning around, walking 10 feet back, then turning around.
A face appeared in one cell's observation slot while others engaged in a steady stream of chatter that echoed through the area.
May 15th, 2007  
Team Infidel
The changing face of Guantánamo Bay
The Pentagon has built a series of prison camps at Guantánamo Bay since it inaugurated its offshore interrogation center for terrorist suspects in January 2002 by airlifting captives to remote Cuba from Bagram, Afghanistan. They include:
Camp X-Ray:
The first camp, with 320 cells made
of chain-link fencing, has emerged as the iconic image of the rugged, makeshift accommodations granted so-called enemy combatants in remote Cuba. A maze of kennel-like cages, the camp housed prisoners for about four months. It was an arrangement that allowed them to chat and pray communally and at one point organize the first hunger strike. Now abandoned, and overgrown with weeds, it provides journalists from around the world an opportunity to see how the detention center's infrastructure has evolved. Opened: Jan. 11, 2002. Current population: zero.
Camp Delta, also known as Camps 1-2-3:
This was the first improvement for housing the detainees. Halliburton workers from the Indian subcontinent welded metal shipping containers to create about 800 individual steel and mesh cells in boxcar-style arrangements. Built in stages for well over $30 million, its first phase, built in May 2002 with a projected five-year life span, has been renovated to make it harder for captives to rip steel parts from the walls and floors of the cells. In June 2006, three Arab captives were simultaneously discovered hanging in their cells, initially unnoticed by guards because they hung towels to block the view. Opened: April 28, 2002. Current detainee population: About 80.
Camp Echo:
This camp has been used for captives to meet lawyers inside shed-style buildings containing a tiny cell, a toilet and shower, with adjoining space for a table and chairs, and an ankle shackle fixed to the floor. Until a federal judge ordered the practice halted in November 2004, it was used as a special segregation site for detainees facing war-crimes trials. Self-confessed al Qaeda foot soldier David Hicks of Australia has lived here on and off for more than a year of his five-year stay at Guantánamo; he is awaiting repatriation to his homeland. Current detainee population: Unknown.
Camp 4:
Meant to be a showcase, pre-release detention area for 175 or so of the most cooperative, least dangerous captives, it was designed to resemble a traditional prisoner-of-war lockup. It has 10-cot bunkhouses, communal showers and toilets and a common outdoor eating area with picnic tables where captives could pray together. Commanders also added exercise bicycles and ordered AstroTurf for a dirt soccer field below a watchtower. Guards all but emptied it after what they described as a foiled uprising attempt in May 2004. Today there are the first sprouts of a garden in one recreation area and a bunkhouse bay transformed into a classroom with four desks and leg shackles for Arabic and Pashto classes. Opened: February 2003. Current population: About 38 detainees.
Camp 5:
A maximum-security building modeled after a state prison in Bunker Hill, Ind., the $15 million building houses 100 captives monitored by guards using closed-circuit cameras and a central locking system. It has special interrogation cells, outfitted with faux Persian carpets, blue velour reclining chairs with an ankle shackle point, monitors, panic buttons and open-air, cage-like recreation areas. It houses 100 prisoners considered of greatest intelligence value, each in a single cell with toilet and fixed sleeping shelf under constant monitor by guards who peer through their windows. Each detainee gets all of his meals slid through a slot in the metal door, and up to two hours of exercise a day in a 20-by-10-foot recreation yard encircled by a chain-linked fence. Opened: May 2004. Current population: About 96.
Camp 6:
This $39 million, centrally run, 200-cell prison was meant to be a minimum-security, all-enclosed version of Camp 4, with communal eating areas, easy-access showers and its own medical and dental clinic based on a Michigan model. After guards fought detainees inside Camp 4 in May 2006, it was redesigned as a maximum-security lockup. Captives at Camp 6 eat every meal and spend at least 22 hours a day inside single-occupancy 6.8-by-12-foot cells furnished with a stainless steel sink and toilet, a bunk and a steel desk with a slot to serve as a Koran holder. A common recreation yard was subdivided into five chain-link-fence-style cages, separating them from each other for up to two hours in the enclosures. Opened: December 2006. Current population: About 165 detainees.
Camp Iguana:
Now a site for prisoners to meet lawyers, it began as a single concrete-block, beachfront building that was encircled with a chain-linked fence and razor wire to house three Afghani captives aged 15 or younger until they were sent home in January 2004. Wooden buildings were added to the small site, and for a while held five ethnic Uighur Chinese Muslims before they were sent to Albania. Current population: Zero.