Claudia Rosett describes her visits to Guantanamo Bay. “Security guards detach name strips from their uniforms … direct attacks and threats from the inmates, but threats against their families. Detainees have made weapons out of light bulbs, fan blades … detainees use the lawyer-client privileges they enjoy as a clandestine communications network both inside and outside the camp … “a fully tricked-out al-Qaeda operating cell.” Also, Patterico has a series of interviews with a nurse working at Guantanamo Bay: loosely titled the man who has spoken to terrorists, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Here's Claudia's full description of what she found in the prison.
What we saw is a place so steeped in political correctness that it comes close to caricature. Make no mistake: The detainees occupy cells in a high-security facility. But almost every room has an arrow on the floor pointing to Mecca. Signs demanding silence stand ready for prayer time. Korans are cradled in surgical masks. Detainees are interrogated while sitting on sofas or cushioned reclining chairs.
They choose from a halal menu including such home-style treats as dates and baklava. Doctors, dentists and psychiatrists (offering confidential counseling) are on 24-hour call. Good behavior is rewarded with access to board games, books and communal areas, including more time in recreational yards - where we saw a group of detainees chatting around a table, while one of their cohorts nearby, at leisurely speed in the afternoon heat, pedaled an exercise bike.
An officer tells me that earlier this year Guantanamo was buying bottled water that had an American flag on the label. Lest this upset the detainees, base personnel were put to work stripping off the labels.
At the same time, there is a deadly game going on in this camp.
Security guards detach name strips from their uniforms when going near the detainees. Some of the guards, we are told, have been on the receiving end not only of direct attacks and threats from the inmates, but threats against their families. Detainees have made weapons out of light bulbs, fan blades, the footpads of their Asian-style toilets, and the springs in their push-button sinks. Guards tell us that detainees use the lawyer-client privileges they enjoy as a clandestine communications network both inside and outside the camp. What exists in the inmate culture, Harris explains, is, in effect, "a fully tricked-out al-Qaeda operating cell."
Patterico's Part 4 describes a side of Gitmo you don't always get from the press. It centers around the recollections of a nurse who describes his daily conversations with the detainees; men of who have threatened him and his family with the cold matter-of-factness of a hit man telling his victim that being at the bottom of the food chain was the victim's dumb luck. And to show you what they mean they'll attack you in prison. Here's an excerpt from Patterico's post.
The attacks on military personnel could be brutal, he explained:
Consider that flinging “cocktails” of urine, feces, saliva, sperm, vomitus, and combinations thereof was threatened daily by detainees and performed several times each week. Also, verbal abuse from detainees was very common. . . . This was in addition to physical assaults on guards with everything from shanks, kicks, elbows, and a variety of rather clever makeshift weapons. ... We were told about one female medic who had to have major reconstructive surgery on her face following a detainee assault. She was too close to the beanhole (door opening) and the detainee was able to reach out, grab her head, and pull her face-first into the steel frame of the door, shattering most of the facial bone structure. ...
But what could you do to a detainee who smashed every bone in a female nurse's face? Send him to Guantanamo? On the other hand, you could always court-martial the guards. Or worse, feed them to the ACLU.
I pressed for more detail on incidents of excessive force against, or mistreatment of, the detainees. How many such incidents occurred while Stashiu was there? Were the detainees injured badly? Were the offenders court-martialed? What happened to them?
There were maybe 4 or 5 incidents that I heard of. At least one resulted in a courts-martial. The rest were punished because no matter how provoked you were, that was the job. I am not aware of anyone who messed with a detainee without being struck first, but being struck was not a license to retaliate. We were only allowed enough of a response to defend ourselves and disengage or contain the detainee. Any gratuitous response was worth at least a field-grade level non-judicial punishment (fairly harsh and pretty damaging to a career, but not necessarily a career-killer).
But it may not just be Guantanamo that may be come "a fully tricked-out al-Qaeda operating cell." US Federal prisons may be vulnerable as well. The Associated Press/Breitbart reports that some convicted terrorists continue their careers behind bars, in one instance communicating with the Madrid train bombers.
Mail for convicted terrorists and other dangerous federal inmates isn't being fully read by prison authorities, and that is a risk to national security, a Justice Department review concluded Tuesday.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is supposed to translate and screen all mail to and from the highest-risk inmates — including terrorists ... But that target was not being met consistently at 10 federal prisons and detention centers surveyed by the Justice Department's inspector general. "The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated," concluded the report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. ... it is largely too cash- strapped to afford enough staff to sort through the thousands of letters and other pieces of mail federal prisons receive each week — what Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin described to inspectors as searching for "a needle in a haystack."
Experts fear that a new generation of homegrown terrorists is being bred in prison and, after release, they will seek guidance from Islamic extremists still behind bars. The Justice Department's mail investigation was spurred, in part, after three convicted terrorists at a federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., were found to have written an estimated 90 letters between 2002 and 2004 to Islamic extremists — some with links to the March 11, 2004, attacks on commuter trains in Madrid. Some of the letters later surfaced in the hands of a terror suspect who used them to recruit suicide operatives.
The process through which terrorist suspects have converted Guantanamo Bay into "a fully tricked-out al-Qaeda operating cell" illustrates asymmetrical warfare at its finest. By exploiting the vulnerabilities of the American system its enemies not only escape its force, they are actually able to go onto the offensive against it. Their strength lies in being able to understand the way the American system works in an unblinkered, politically incorrect way. While political pundits agonize endlessly over whether certain "privileges" and rules of engagement enable terrorism — often arguing that they do not — terrorists understand that they actually do. And their activities are a validation and testament to the correctness of their understanding. One of the greatest weaknesses of the West in the face of the terrorist threat is in it's inability to see the truth. Terrorists know the truth. They see the vital organs of their victim delicately exposed and its fragile lifeblood pulsing pitifully beneath the skin.