Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The BBC has a nice article about a reunion between a former Guantanamo guard and two prisoners.  The story is an interesting read.  I noticed several interesting tidbits that are not actually the main point of the story:

  • Apparently we were unable to discern the difference between Islamic radicals and British college tourists hoping to score some great weed.
  • The guards and inmates had some opportunities to talk to each other.
  • After spending a tour there, the incident that this former guard really feels guilty about is a misunderstanding between himself and a prisoner that ended with the guard "bashing the guys head against the floor" to subdue him.

So we swept the net too wide and arrested innocent people.  Sad, but no surprise, really.  I'm glad to see that the experience didn't completely drive these two into Al Queda's waiting arms.  We can only hope that most of the other innocent inmates will be similarly forgiving.

And apparently the inmates are not just sitting in total isolation all day.  That actually surprises me some.  This is as close to official information about the day-to-day operation of the prison as we have received.  I was expecting each prisoner to be in solitary confinement, or at least fully isolated from other prisoners 23x7.

The former guard explains the misunderstanding that led to his harsh take-down of the elderly prisoner.  Given that explanation, the damage he deals to the prisoner doesn't seem too out of line to me.  I can't say that if I were the guard I would have done better (less damage.)  I understand feeling guilty about it.  But this is not the sort of prisoner abuse story that we were expecting, especially considering the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

So maybe the camp isn't quite as inhuman as we have feared.  Maybe.  Hopefully.

But there are still some 200-odd prisoners there.  This is one of Obama's campaign promises that I wish he would find the strength to keep.  But I shall not hold my breath.

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