New camps housing Guantanamo detainees are state-of-the art facilities modelled after American medium-security prisons.
The buildings don’t last long and are constantly being replaced, but the first camp, Camp X-Ray, is the one everyone thinks of when they imagine the abuse suffered by Guantanamo detainees.
Business Insider spent one very hot afternoon exploring the now-abandoned Camp X-Ray in 2013.
We knew it would be intense, but that doesn’t really describe visiting the place where America’s reputation was sullied forever. Even overgrown with grass on a beautiful island, it’s impossible to see past the dark history of what happened here.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Station has been a U.S. military base for more than a century. During the 40 years leading to September 11, 2001, it was filled with asylum-seeking refugees from throughout the Caribbean.
When it opened in January 2002, the DoD said Camp X-Ray would temporarily shelter 'the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.'
But without trial to establish the guilt of detainees and with allegedly brutal interrogation techniques, Camp X-Ray -- and the rest of the detention camp -- would become a beacon of anti-American hostility.
By April 2002, all detainees had transferred to Camp Delta and Camp X-Ray was closed. The facility has not been destroyed, however, in part because there are ongoing criminal investigations about what happened here.
Business Insider was at Camp X-Ray in March 2013 and spent a full afternoon exploring the most controversial camp at Guantanamo.
It's no secret that Cuba is hot, but on most of Guantanamo there's a breeze that skims off the worst of the heat. Not here. It's deathly still and at 2:00 p.m. -- sweltering hot. The Army Sgt. walking with us says, 'There's a reason we bring reporters here in the afternoon with no water.' We laughed, not sure if he was joking.
It's been left to the massive 'Banana Rats' that prowl X-Ray's fences and former cages with impunity.
But some of the doors in the interrogation huts were nailed, swollen shut by the heat and rain. We pushed our way in.
Seizure medication sat in one sealed hut. Delivered to GTMO in a frozen eclairs box from a Minnesota doctor.
This room would offer sweet relief from the heat, but the fear that likely filled it isn't difficult to imagine.
Carol Rosenberg from the Miami Herald was here when the first prisoners were brought in and she's covered Guantanamo since. Her knowledge is passed along from one public affairs Sgt. to another here.
Because it disturbed his neighbouring inmates, the man was put in a far-removed cell with electric lighting for observation.
These cells would have been filled with orange-clad men swept from Afghanistan in the frenzied months following 9/11. The heat is oppressive and it's only mid-March. By the time Camp Delta received the men here and X-Ray closed, it was late April and would have been far hotter still.
There was no idea what to expect and the largely Muslim men insisted these showers be built instead.
Army Specialist Brandon Neely was stationed here in those first few days and told CNN: 'At Camp X-Ray you would have to take a water hose and put water in their buckets ... They had two buckets, one for water and one to use as the restroom.'
Neely told CNN: 'They had decided from the start that it was different from an enemy prison of war camp ... We were told in the first couple of minutes at Gitmo that this was a detention facility and the Geneva Conventions would not be in effect ... There was no army manual on this, no standard operation procedure.'
Neely's revelations stunned the world in 2011 as further evidence of what actually happened in those dark days came to light.
Neely says he remains ashamed by the abuse delivered here and his failure to do anything at the time to stop it.
The only thing we know for sure is that none of the troops here at the time signed up for this, and they may regret it too.
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