Gitmo O'My HeartTwenty-five years ago I visited our sun-dappled Caribbean outpost, Guantanamo Bay. I can't say that it left many lasting memories. However, I do recall that it was a decaying backwater that was so boring that sailors stationed there preferred sea duty. At least the ship moved occasionally and they could get off. For excitement they would gather on the beach each afternoon and drunkenly try to flag down the gleaming cruise ships that were cruising tantalizingly just off shore. It reminded me a bit of Gilligan's Island without the intellectual companionship of the Professor. Oh, and no coconuts.
These days, of course, Guantanamo stands for so much more. Now it has brand spanking new, state-of-the-art prison cells containing small pointers toward Mecca to help the prisoners with their daily devotions. I understand that the Pentagon PR hacks always point them out to visitors as a sign of how progressive a little detention ward we run there. By contrast ,the detainees have to have their fun in different ways. I understanding that drying off their urine-soaked Korans and staging hunger strikes are quite popular diversions.
I think about my old Cuban haunt because of some lightly-reported news that came out over the weekend. In order to train guards to the more exacting standards they've been promising of late, a Marine volunteered to dress in detainee garb and play the part of an unruly enemy combatant in a practice "hostile take down situation". During the takedown, the Marine was beaten so badly that he suffered permanent brain damage, despite the fact that he yelled the knock it off code word several times. The beatings only stopped when the Marine's prison clothing came open and revealed the uniform he was wearing underneath. After investigating the incident, Marine officials discharged the Marine and are now refusing his attempts to be reinstated. I'm guessing the brain damage may have something to do with that last part.
When asked for a comment, DefSec Donald "Rummy Boy" Rumsfeld probably mumbled something about having to, "go to prison with the guards you have, not the guards you want". Or maybe, "you now the unknowns that you don't know except when you don't know them. You know?"
I do know this though. On the same day this small story broke, there was a much bigger one. Rummy wants to promote the high level commanders who have been responsible for Gitmo and Abu Graib so far.
You can some thing for old Rum. If nothing else, he has an impeccable sense of timing.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, June 20, 2005