There’s no getting around the dark history of Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The U.S. military facility in Cuba was where America first embraced indefinite detention and by many reports torture.
After more than a decade of operations, however, some would say that conditions have improved.
We had that impression after visiting the camp for five days in March. Although our tour of the facility was controlled by the military, we came away with the impression that compliant detainees receive better treatment than most prisoners in the United States. For non-compliant detainees, like the 92 going on hunger strike right now, conditions remain highly restrictive.
As for torture, the Obama administration has ordered that it not happen anymore — believe what you will.
Indefinite detention? America has stopped adding detainees but has not figured out what to do with the ones that are already there.
What’s really happening at Guantanamo? We invite you to look over our pictures and let them inform your own opinion.
This single airstrip on the southwestern edge of Cuba is one of the only ways into Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
The detention camp was opened in 2002 to hold captives from America's War On Terror. Images of prisoners in orange jumpsuits from the temporary facility at Camp X-Ray are what most people picture when they think of Guantanamo.
Parts of Camp Delta too have been abandoned, like this area still housing a rusty exercise machine. They will remain untouched as possible evidence for investigations of wrongdoing.
Camp Delta gave way to Guantanamo's newest facilities, Camp V and Camp VI, where the majority of detainees are housed today.
Immediately behind the prison gate are boxes holding that day's lunch. Food is shuttled over three times a day from a large kitchen facility, delivered in these containers filled partially with boiling water to keep hot food hot.
This is the inside of one of the unused detainee cell block pods. Cell doors are rarely locked for compliant detainees.
Each pod contains a common room or living area. Prison officials stated that food distribution in each pod is handled by one nominated detainee.
Foreign language papers sit right outside the common areas and are distributed by guards upon request.
According to Guantanamo officials, this empty container houses a TV in occupied areas. Some containers have an extra slot for a PS3 or DVD player.
Prison officials say hardcover Korans are constantly renewed and distributed by the Cultural Advisor.
A popular art class is held in one now-vacant pod. Life Skills and English classes are not nearly as popular, officials say.
This is the 'Super Rec' yard installed for $750,000. During my visit, detainees complained that the field was not level.
According to prison officials, detainees were allowed 22 hour access to the yard prior to the hunger strike. Only 15 detainees currently have 22 hour access.
A large supply of water is on hand for detainees and everyone else to guard against the heat and sun.
The detainee medical centre can accommodate all but extreme trauma and surgery, in which case the base hospital would be used. The staff here wear alias name tags they say provides a 'human connection.'
'JTF PAO' means 'Joint Task Force Public Affairs Office.' The name tag covers must normally be worn anyplace staff members may come in contact with detainees to keep them from exploiting the information.
Guards in these areas wear protective suits and face shields to protect them from 'Splashings' — when detainees fling styrofoam cups filled with feces, semen, and urine.
A guard in Camp V's lockdown section delivers food to a detainee on a sliding tray through a slot on the door.
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