Saturday , January 31, 2009
By Catherine Herrid.Assaults, cartoons and art class — all are part of the daily life at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
On a tour of the U.S. detention facility's camps four, five and six, which include the maximum security camps, FOX News was shown a place where often the facts are stranger than fiction.
"Once again on behalf of the joint task force, welcome to Camp 5. This is a maximum security facility," said Navy Commander Jeff Hayhurst, the deputy commander of the joint detention group and FOX News' guide for the day.
"It opened in 2004, cost $17.5 million. It’s modeled on a max security facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. Most of it was pre-fabricated off island and constructed once it arrived. … Again max security."
This camp is for the most non-compliant detainees — those who refuse to follow the rules.
"There's assaults by bodily fluids, feces, urine, semen, water, physical assaults, head butts, stomps, kicks — anything of that nature, that occurs routinely," Hayhurst said.
A common form of assault comes at meal time. Hayhurst showed us how detainees try to grab the guards' arms through the cell food slot in an effort to break them. These assaults, according to military officials, occur eight times a week on average.
Camp 4, also known as Camp Delta, is a different story. Inside were bunks for the most highly compliant detainees. And for their good behavior, the detainees receive special privileges, including up to 18 hours a day outside in a communal setting, where they can play volleyball or soccer. There is even art class, which is extremely popular. For safety reasons, at least one leg is chained to the floor.
There is TV, too. The favorite show of the alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees is the deep sea fishing show off the coast of Alaska called "The Deadliest Catch." No one can explain why. That said, it doesn’t take a lot to get this population agitated and upset. Even though what the detainees see is heavily censored, Hayhurst says there can still be problems.
"There’s cultural differences, and there’s many things that can agitate the population. We’ve had some that even a TV ad of a fully clothed female who was washing her arms, I believe it was the Palmolive commercial, just agitated them." Hayhurst paused. "We had one population that destroyed a TV over that type of advertisement."
The cells are not as small as you would expect, and each one has a black arrow painted on the floor or bunk which points to Mecca so each detainee can pray. They are also issued prison garb — white means the detainee is highly complaint, while orange means the detainee is not complaint and on disciplinary measures.
The average age of the guards is 21, and most do 12-hour shifts. In many cases, in the maximum security camps, they must lay eyes on a detainee every three minutes as part of a suicide watch. It means walking eight to 10 miles in the dark corridors of the camp each day. A lot can go down quickly in the camps.
"I know there are a lot of things that transpire in the camp," Hayhurst said. "They're very quick and very smart."