“There’s no place like Gitmo”

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Tom Vanden Brook writes that “There’s no place like Gitmo,” underlining the incongruence of the U.S. base in Cuba, its strangeness, and its obsolescence. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

It’s hot and humid and windy and a bit odd, too.

This place is at once the flash point for concerns about the war on terror and an odd, interesting relic of early 20th-century navigation. Guantanamo Bay is pretty as well, but you’ll have to take my word on that. The strictures on what can be photographed are just that, strict. You’re limited to three narrow backdrops: a shot of a hillside with an American flag, the “Camp Justice” sign (nothing too far to the right or left) and a small section of the razor-wire-topped complex where defendants such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 plotter, appear before military commissions.

That’s what has made this odd chunk of America plopped on the tip of Cuban soil newsworthy since 2002 when the first terror suspects were imprisoned at Camp X-Ray. President Obama, in one of his first statements after taking office, vowed to shutter the detention camps.

That obviously hasn’t happened. There are 149 detainees, as the military refers to them, being held in “camps” at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, a slice of the 45-square-mile base the U.S. Navy leased from Cuba in 1903 to use as a station to refuel its warships with coal.

This week, KSM, the most infamous detainee, will appear before the military commission for hearings. That alone is fodder for critics of the tribunals who say federal courts are the best place to try terror suspects. KSM was captured in 2003 in Pakistan, and his trial date is nowhere in sight.

[. . .] Elsewhere, the base evokes the same odd feeling of America-on-another-planet as big bases in Iraq and Afghanistan that boast fast-food outlets. About 5,000 troops and civilians live and work here.

You’ll find McDonald’s and Subway and a coffee house that’s not quite Starbucks but serves its coffee. You can sip your latte in front of a view of the turquoise Caribbean and low mountains of Cuba. Out of sight but not mind are U.S. Marines who guard 17.4 miles of security fence.

For full article, see http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/2014/06/15/guantanamo-bay-conditions-update/10562705/

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