April 4, 2009
National Geographic Inside Guantanamo promo
WASHINGTON – Tracing the day-to-day treatment of detainees at the hands of their jailers at the notorious detention camp, a new documentary is giving the first in-depth look at the Guantanamo Bay.
“Guantanamo Bay was the legal equivalent of outer space — a place with no law,” former Navy defense lawyer Charles Swift says in the National Geographic documentary, “Explorer: Inside Guantanamo.”
Shot in August, the one-and-a-half-hour movie depicts the daily routine in a cellblock of Guantanamo’s concrete-and-steel maximum-security facility.
It shows guards making suicide checks every three minutes; detainees banter or taunt or soldiers rush with face shields and rubber gloves to quell a disturbance.
The film shows the vine-covered ruins of Camp X-Ray — the open cages where detainees in orange jump suits were first held in 2002 and led tightly shackled to nearby wooden shacks for interrogations in tight, windowless rooms.
It traces the George W. Bush administration’s policies, from abuses of detainees, to Supreme Court rulings and to what the military now casts as respectful, humane treatment.
“It very much is psychological warfare,” a Guantanamo prison guard, identified by the pseudonym Jane Smith, told Reuters, of the detention camp.
“It’s a contest of wills.”
The US has been holding hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo for years, branding them unlawful enemy combatants to deny them legal rights under the American legal system.
There are now about 250 prisoners inside the notorious prison and the Justice Department is expected to start a thorough review of their cases soon.
US President Barack Obama ordered in January the detention camp to be closed within a year and his administration is studying what to do with the detainees inside.
The National Geographic documentary also shows detainees speaking about mistreatment at the hands of their jailers.
“Never, never, I am here for seven years, I never get my rights,” a detainee shouts from his cell.
Another says the guards are putting on a show for the camera crew, which is barred from interviewing him.
“It’s pretty good service now,” the detainee says, laughing. “One hour ago, you bad guys don’t care about anything.”
“If you believe this propaganda, I am Santa,” he says.
Across the Atlantic, released inmate Moazzam Begg, a British citizen who spent three years in Guantanamo.
“Everything that I was had ended,” Begg says.
“Being a father had ended. Being a brother, a husband, a son.”
Key figures involved in the film say the documentary fairly depicted the prison and debate.
“It gives a 360-degree view and people can make up their own mind,” said Charles Stimson, a former Pentagon chief for detainee affairs, who helped get Geographic into Guantanamo.