Jewish World Review March 2, 2011 / 26 Adar I, 5771
In Guantanamo Bay, war criminals get Bush's memoir, watch TV
By Carol Rosenberg
Prisoners at Camp 5 aren't like the others
UANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba (MCT) One Sudanese prisoner is filling his hours until release reading "Decision Points,"
Another is being home-schooled every other week inside a cell, learning the astronomy, math, grammar,
These are the war criminals of
Because each man was sentenced for war crimes by a U.S. military jury, three after guilty pleas in exchange for short sentences, theirs is what the
Yet, military defense lawyers say the convict cellblock at Camp 5 is especially austere and that their clients are doing hard time reminiscent of
Each man spends 12 or more hours a day locked behind a steel door inside a 12-by-8-foot cell equipped with a bed, a sink and a toilet.
They get up to eight hours off the cellblock in an open-air recreation yard, a huge cage surrounded by chain-linked fencing. If recreation time coincides with one of Islam's five-times-daily calls to prayer, the convicts can pray together. If it coincides with meal time, they can eat together.
Once locked in their cells, they can shout to each other through the slots in their steel prison doors troops use to deliver meals and library books.
TV time is spent alone, each man shackled by an ankle to the floor of an interrogation room, always under the watch of a special guard force implementing a
At 50, Ibrahim Qosi of
Now up for release from the cellblock in
In a failed bid for clemency, Qosi's attorney, Navy Cmdr.
But a senior guard who works at the prison said it's far from isolation. "They do get to commune together," said Army Command Sgt. Major
"It's a prison, ma'am," Borrero said. "I make the assumption they don't want to be here."
The cellblock's youngest is confessed teen terrorist
He pleaded guilty to war crimes last year in exchange for a promise to repatriate him before his 26th birthday. A military jury sentenced him to 40 more years in prison for hurling a grenade that killed an American commando in a
At his sentencing hearing, a government-paid psychiatrist said Khadr spent his years here "marinating in a radical Islamic community" — memorizing verses of the Quran in the company of captives who got to eat, pray, watch satellite TV and shoot hoops in groups as a reward for good behavior.
Now Khadr's cut off from that group, as a war criminal segregated in circumstances his
Khadr's father, an
There, for four days out of five, military lawyers and paralegals are drilling Khadr on a home-school-styled curriculum designed by a Canadian college professor — history, astronomy, math, grammar, elocution.
English is the emphasis, said Jackson, to help him achieve "mature student" status in
Not so long ago, the
"He's very serious about his education," Jackson said. "His attitude is positive. There's been a real change in him now that he has the legal matters behind him."
Also on the cellblock are
Theirs is a prison within the sprawling prison system, cut off from the other captives regardless of how good their behavior.
Elsewhere on the base, the military has built a secret lockup for men interrogated by the
But Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are "serving punitive sentences," says Navy Cmdr.
Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are "detained under the Law of War only as a security measure" and "should not be subjected to a penal environment or commingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction."
Once their sentences are over, under
Or they may leave
That test could come next year. The Sudanese man reading the Bush memoirs finishes his sentence on
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