Members of Congress See “Progress” in Guantanamo

BBC News has some rather unexpected quotations:

Conditions “Better” at Guantanamo

Members of the US Congress who toured Guantanamo Bay prison have said that conditions there are improving, despite renewed calls for its closure.

Their visit came at a time of growing concern that treatment of prisoners there is harming America’s image.

More than 500 non-Americans – many captured during the war in Afghanistan and declared “enemy combatants”- are being detained at the facility.

Only four current inmates have been charged with any crime.

On Saturday 16 Representatives who sit on the House Armed Services Committee toured the prison, at a naval base on Cuba, during a one-day fact-finding trip.

Legal framework

California Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who has pushed for greater transparency about the facility, told AP news agency there had been progress since reports about alleged human rights abuses.

“The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago,” she said.

“What we’ve seen here is evidence that we’ve made progress,” said Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat who believes the facility should close.

But legislators agreed that more needed to be done to ensure a legal framework to deal with detainees, some of whom have been held for three years without charge.

Even though some otherwise critical Democrats are making these statements, I’m reluctant to lend them much weight. Inevitably, dog-and-pony-show tours offer minimal insight into daily operations. Perhaps progress — however one wishes to define it — has indeed been made, but consider the assessment tool:

The group toured cell blocks and ate lunch with troops, a meal of chicken with orange sauce, rice and okra that was also served to inmates.

They watched the interrogation of three suspects, including one in which a detainee was read a Harry Potter book aloud for hours until he turned his back and put his hands over his ears.

None of the detainees was physically touched.

These methods leave much to be desired, to say the least.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. Anderson says:

    Rather a cruel commentary on Rowling. They should pick really suspenseful books, and then read all but the last chapter to the prisoners.

  2. Kate says:

    I’d drag out old copies of Valley of the Dolls and the Mandingo series….

  3. mike k says:

    That’s prison? My teachers in high school made me read Toni Morrison – have you read ‘Song of Solomon’ – some say it is a great book but I call it torture – what’s the number for Amnesty International?

  4. leelu says:

    …interesting take by the MSM. They “report” that Gito is agulag run by Nazis (to paraphrase), offer no proof, and then, when some congress people visit and see no evidence of torture, sat that “progress” has been made. Key quote:

    “The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago,” she (California Democrat Ellen Tauscher) said.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    So the MSM gets to congratulate itself on the fine, Watergate-like job its done in improving the inhumane conditions.


  5. S.K. says:

    May I recommend Night by Elle Wiesel? The hardest part would be to convince these people it’s not a work of fiction.

  6. Anderson says:

    The suffering of Jews is unlikely to bother many of these guys.

    Kudos btw to Tagorda for being sensibly skeptical of Camp Potemkin. Things may be much reformed there (I hope so), but announced visits aren’t the way to find out.

  7. herb says:

    What a joke, A bunch of dumb ass congressman and women go to Gitmo and make damned fools of themselves with their stupid statements. I would rather have heard that we just shot those assholes at Gitmo and be done with it. Just think of the millions of taxpayer dollars squandered over “making everything easy for those bastards”. Those asshole congress people need to stay home and do something useful for those who put them in office. No wonder that all of congress has a lower rating than used car salesman.

  8. Anderson says:

    Herb may have a different opinion when he’s nabbed as an “enemy combatant” like Padilla, but chances are it will be many years before we get to hear it. But since, as a detainee, his public opinion rating will be quite low, I don’t guess we need worry about it.

  9. herb says:

    Looks like Anderson is one of those terrorist loving liberals that want every American to succumb to their left wing traitor preaching. It’s to bad that he just doesn’t get the picture that liberals are nothing more that terrorist disguised as Democrats