Of course, most of the Guantanamo detainees were captured on the battlefield. They’re not criminals -- they’re prisoners of war. We’re not looking to “book them,” we simply need to detain them so they can’t go back to the battlefield and kill Americans.
And the number of people we’ve actually held is pretty small. Last month the military announced that only 759 people have spent time at Gitmo. Hundreds have already been freed and an additional 136 detainees will be released or transferred as soon as their home countries agree to accept and treat them humanely, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler.
Meanwhile, far from being a hell hole, Gitmo is a model of a humane prison. Detainees eat (if they want to) three balanced meals a day. Each detainee gets a Koran (in his home language) and a surgical mask to store it in (so “infidels” won’t defile it by touching it). There’s a call to prayer five times a day, and guards are instructed to remain quiet during prayers. Two thirds of detainees have a prayer rug, perfume oil and prayer beads. Sounds posh enough as prisons go.
Still, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights claims prisoners have been tortured, even though nobody from the commission actually visited Gitmo to look around. Former military officer Dana Dillon did. And he’s not alone.
“More than 1,000 journalists have visited Gitmo, plus 11 senators, 77 congressmen, 99 congressional staffers, and, of course, lawyers for the detainees,” Dillon wrote last year. “The prisoners there were treated humanely and justly, living in conditions that meet -- indeed, far exceed -- Geneva Convention standards for prisoner treatment.”
As at any prison, there can be violence. Some detainees clashed with guards last month after two had attempted to kill themselves by overdosing on anti-depressant drugs they collected from other prisoners. There’s an example of abuse, American-military style: We give prisoners Prozac so they won’t be depressed.
The American way of war is unique. We do what we need to do to defeat our enemies, but we also bend over backward to prevent unnecessary deaths. The fine folks at the international pressure groups that love to criticize the U.S. can only hope if they’re ever detained it’s by our military, and not by the head-hackers who are our enemies in this Long War.