Even though today is Talk like a Pirate Day, I’ve decided instead to be a shill for the U.S. military. Here are ten facts about Guantanamo that you may not be aware of if you get your news just from the mainstream media. This comes directly from the military and is dated Sept. 14th, 2006.

  1. The detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility include bin Laden’s bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers and facilitators, and other suspected terrorists.
  2. More money is spent on meals for detainees than on the U.S. troops stationed there. Detainees are offered up to 4,200 calories a day. The average weight gain per detainee is 20 pounds.
  3. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day. Arrows point detainees toward the holy city of Mecca.
  4. Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued.
  5. The International Committee of the Red Cross visits detainees at the facility every few months. More than 20,000 messages between detainees and their families have been exchanged.
  6. Recreation activities include basketball, volleyball, soccer, pingpong, and board games. High-top sneakers are provided.
  7. Departing detainees receive a Koran, a jean jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries, and a pillow and blanket for the flight home.
  8. Entertainment includes Arabic language TV shows, including World Cup soccer games. The library has 3,500 volumes available in 13 languages — the most requested book is “Harry Potter.”
  9. Guantanamo is the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare. The Joint Task Force has hosted more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries.
  10. In 2005, Amnesty International stated that “the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times.”

Let’s focus for a bit on the comparison between Guantanamo and the Soviet gulag. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia about the conditions in the gulag:

Extreme production quotas, malnutrition, harsh elements, inadequate housing, hygiene, and medical care, as well as brutal treatment by camp officials, guards, and fellow prisoners were the major reasons for high fatality rates, which in extreme cases could be as high as 80%.

And Gitmo is “the gulag of our times”? Oh, please!

Here’s something else worth considering. The media would have you believe that the “torture” that went on at Abu Ghraib was pandemic and widespread, indicative of the entire military force in Iraq, when they represented only a vanishingly small percentage of problem soldiers. Abu Ghraib has hit the news again recently with reports of torture, but now under Iraqi hands:

An independent witness who went into Abu Ghraib this week told The Sunday Telegraph that screams were coming from the cell blocks housing the terrorist suspects. Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on Wednesday, 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Conditions in the rest of the jail were grim, with an overwhelming stench of excrement, prisoners crammed into cells for all but 20 minutes a day, food rations cut to just rice and water and no air conditioning.

Some of the small number of prisoners who remained in the jail after the Americans left said they had pleaded to go with their departing captors, rather than be left in the hands of Iraqi guards.

“The Americans were better than the Iraqis. They treated us better,” said Khalid Alaani, who was held on suspicion of involvement in Sunni terrorism.

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