Guantánamo Public Memory Project

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Carol Rosenberg

At GTMO: 2002-2006

Journalist Carol Rosenberg describes her first visit to Camp Six, and the lack of accessibility to the prisoners.

You know when we first went to Camp Six, which is a 220-cell or a 220-prisoner prison camp… building, prison building, penitentiary building, built in cell blocks based on an American prison structure, it was after the suicides. And they were moved into this building. And they were in single cell occupancy. You will have people in this project who will say it was solitary confinement. The military will tell you there wasn’t solitary confinement because they had human contact. And they were in these cells 22 hours a day, 24 hours a day, not really, but 22 hours a day or longer. They are, they prayed, they were in these boxes all the time. You’d go on tour and you would see them in these boxes pacing back and forth and back and forth through the windows. And you could see what the lawyers described as a real austere, emotionally, physically difficult structure of detention.
Now you go to that camp, the doors are open – that prison building – the doors are open and the detainees have the “run” (speaker’s air quotes) of that block. They can move around up and down the stairs and within this area where they can come and go from their cells. they can go take a shower. They aren’t shackled as they were during the previous period when they were taken to showers.
And the guards are in the cages. They have built chain link fences, chain link fence cages, inside the cellblocks near the exit where they can have maybe three feet of space in front of them. And they are in these, like i said, these little chain link fence enclosures where the detainees can come up and make a request or talk to them or pass their laundry or ask for a bottle of water or something. And you see the guards pacing back and forth in these very confined areas so that their feet don’t fall asleep, so that they stay alert because their job is to keep an eye on the detainees.
And it’s ten years later and what you’ve seen in this is an experiment in which they are continuing to tinker. But having watched the evolution of it, it is striking how – I’m not saying it will be like this tomorrow; I’m not saying it had been like this forever – but as this moment about 70-80% of the detainees are in more of a POW-style eat together, pray together, have a little mini0library setting than they have had… at the beginning.

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