Get this: "Green plastic screens surround the camp, built by private contractor Brown and Root Services, a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., once run by Vice President Dick Cheney. Military officials earlier this year said the
camp had cost $45 million to build."
When Cheney left Halliburton, he received US$39 million in stock options.
Guantanamo Detention Camp Opens Gates for Journalists, Revealing Glimpse of Detainee Life
By Katy Daigle
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP - 4 Nov) - The U.S. military opened part of
its Camp Delta detention compound to journalists Wednesday, revealing a
glimpse of life in cells that hold about 600 detainees.
An Associated Press reporter and photographer were kept away from
occupied cell blocks, and no photographs were allowed. But the camp
commander opened the door to an empty cell, constructed with steel walls
painted yellow and perforated with diamond-shaped holes.
"You see, there's plenty of room to move around," Army Col. John Perrone
said. Military officials said it was the first time they had shown a cell
to journalists, though they have previously described them at length.
Through the metal grating, detainees can see and talk to each other and
feel the constant Caribbean breeze over the seaside camp on Cuba's
Detainees walk around the 8-by-6.8-foot cells in military-issued
flip-flops. Steps ring out on the steel-plate floor.
The military has issued prayer caps and copies of the Quran, Islam's holy
book, and spray-painted arrows on each metal bed frame pointing the
direction to Mecca.
Prisoners accused of links to the fallen Afghan Taliban regime or
al-Qaida terrorist network began arriving at the U.S. base in January.
The men from 43 countries have not been formally charged and still have
no access to lawyers or courts.
The U.S. government argues it has the right to hold the men as enemy
combatants while officials interrogate them and consider the next step.
Meanwhile, the detention mission is expanding as workers build about 150
new cells to provide minimum-security facilities by late January,
increasing the total number of cells to more than 960, Perrone said.
Detainees who have shown through interrogations that they are not
threatening will be moved to the new, larger cells that can hold several
prisoners at once, he said.
"We've gathered enough information, we're able to make some informed
decisions" about how to expand detainees' privileges, he said. "A good
number qualify to move," to the minimum-security area, he added, though
he wouldn't say how many.
To keep up morale, the military has increased detainees' exercise time
from 15 to 20 minutes a week, Perrone said.
But the detainees' situation has drawn criticism from human rights
groups, and lawyers for some detainees are challenging their indefinite
detention. On Wednesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights also
"It is the legitimate right of any government, including and in
particular the United States, to do all it can to gather information (on
terrorism)," Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello said. "But how long can
you keep a person in legal limbo?"
With afternoon sunlight glinting off barbed-wire fencing, U.S. soldiers
marched to duty guarding the detainees. Only one detainee could be seen
in the distance, walking in shackles with two soldiers at his side.
The rest were out of sight in the cell blocks, made of modified steel
shipping crates that are welded together into rows of 48 cells each.
Green plastic screens surround the camp, built by private contractor
Brown and Root Services, a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., once run by
Vice President Dick Cheney. Military officials earlier this year said the
camp had cost $45 million to build.
Detainees have been told that if interrogators determine they are
innocent, they will be allowed to go home like three Pakistanis and one
Afghan released last month.
About 5 percent of the detainees are being treated for depression or
other mental illnesses, the results possibly of war, other trauma or
prolonged incarceration, said Navy Capt. Albert Shimkus, who heads the
camp hospital. None have been given medication without consent, he said.