Just hours after I left the prison at Gitmo last Friday, three detainees committed suicide, the first fatalities at the camp since it was set up shortly after 9/11.
The Joint Army/Navy Task Force granted “The Factor” almost total access to the prison. And ironically, I asked the colonel in charge of the cells why some of the detainees had covered the small windows that allowed guards to observe them.
The colonel replied that the International Red Cross wants as much privacy for the prisoners as possible. That privacy may have allowed the suicides.
The Guantanamo controversy is easy to define: The Bush administration sees the 460 detainees as prisoners of war. The liberal press and some human rights groups believe they are criminals entitled to due process.
The Joint Task Force in Gitmo -- more than 1,000 military people -- do not make policy. They institute it. So the bulk of my reporting tonight is not about the political controversy. It's about the prison itself.
Although some have called Gitmo a place where torture is practiced, there is no proof of that on the record. It is true that Mohammed al-Gatani, thought to be directly involved with the 9/11 attack, was treated harshly. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ordered that Gatani could be subjected to coerced interrogation, including loud noise, the presence of a dog and sleep deprivation.
But outside of that, the detainees at Gitmo have been treated humanely, the military says. They have access to the International Red Cross and civilian lawyers.
Many live in air conditioned cells. The average detainee has gained 18 pounds since entering Gitmo. And the USA spends three times as much on their food as on military food.
“The Factor” was given rare access to the prison camp. We were just yards away from some of the prisoners, who noted our presence:
That prisoner's screaming in Arabic. Obviously, the military showed us what they wanted us to see. But again, there's absolutely no evidence that I've seen that says any abuse is taking place at Guantanamo Bay.
Nevertheless, the left continues to call for the prison to be closed. People like Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi are adamant about it.
But where do we send these people? They'd be executed inside civilian prisons. And why shift them to a military prison inside the USA? There's no reason to do that.
So at this point, 10 detainees have been charged with war crimes. More than 300 are deemed dangerous to the USA. And about 140 have been designated for release, but few countries want to take them.
Two hundred and seventy nine Gitmo prisoners have already been set free. Few of them went on to commit murder. For example, the Gitmo jihadists blew up a Marriott hotel in Pakistan shortly after the USA repatriated him back to that country.
So "Talking Points" is convinced Guantanamo Bay is being run correctly and that it is necessary for the security of this nation.
And that's "The Memo."
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