Thu, 28 Mar 2013 14:43 CDT
A growing hunger strike among detainees is mocked by gullible journalists spouting familiar Potemkin Village propaganda
© John Moore/Getty Images
Guantánamo inmates kneel at prayers.
If you're looking for a fun activity-filled resort to take your family for a summer vacation, you simply cannot do better than Club GTMO, according to a new glossy travel guide just published
by Robert Johnson
, the Military and Defense Editor of Business Insider, under the guise of a news article. Scrumptious meals. Video games galore for the kids. Outdoor sports. Newspapers from your hometown delivered by smiling bellhops to the front door of your villa. Picturesque Caribbean vistas. All that and more can be yours - provided that you're "compliant". What more could vacationers - or prisoners kept in a cage for more than a decade with no charges thousands of miles away from their family - possibly want? They are, proclaims Johnson, treated "absurdly well". Not just well: absurdly well. They are, he actually writes, lavished with "resort treatment".
The context for Johnson's glowing thumbs-up is an intensifying hunger strike
among (totally ungrateful) prisoners at the camp. Lawyers for the detainees say the hunger strike was triggered "as a protest of the men's indefinite confinement without charge and because of what they said was a return to harsh treatment from past years, including more intrusive searches and confiscation of personal items such as mail from their families." That includes, the lawyers say, a lack of sanitary drinking water which has "already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary and stomach problems". Detainees also complain about the recent manhandling of Korans. One lawyer for 11 detainees, Carlos Warner, identifying himself as a "liberal" supporter of Obama, told
CNN that the detainees are now deprived of some privileges they had all the way back in 2006 and said the situation there was "dire".
The US military, needless to say, denies these claims. While detainee lawyers insist that the overwhelming majority of detainees are participating in the hunger strike, US military officials claim that "only" 31 of the 166 are doing so. They do acknowledge that some are being force-fed, a few have been hospitalized for dehydration, and that more and more are participating in the strike. As the New York Times'
Charlie Savage notes
this morning, the conflicting claims are difficult to resolve. That is in part because journalists have very restricted access to the camp and no access to the detainees.