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The U.S. military detention center at Guant?namo Bay?known to the public as Gitmo?has been called the American Gulag, a scene of medieval horrors where innocent farmers and goat herders swept up in Afghanistan and Iraq have been sequestered, tortured, and abused for years on end without access to legal counsel or basic medical services.
Gordon Cucullu, a retired army colonel, was so appalled by these reports that he decided to see for ...
The U.S. military detention center at GuantÁnamo Bay—known to the public as Gitmo—has been called the American Gulag, a scene of medieval horrors where innocent farmers and goat herders swept up in Afghanistan and Iraq have been sequestered, tortured, and abused for years on end without access to legal counsel or basic medical services.
Gordon Cucullu, a retired army colonel, was so appalled by these reports that he decided to see for himself. In a series of visits he inspected every corner of the camp and interviewed dozens of personnel, from guards and interrogators to cooks and nurses. The result—coming just as the Obama administration wants to close the facility—is a riveting description of daily life for both prisoners and guards. Cucullu describes the six camps reserved for different levels of compliance, details the treatment of prisoners, and examines their experiences in detail, including the techniques used to interrogate them, the food they eat, their medical care, how they communicate with one another, and the many ingenious ways they contrive to assault and injure their guards.
While some prisoners were indeed treated harshly in the early days, when the hastily built camp was flooded with battlefield captures and fears ran high of another 9/11-style attack, Cucullu finds that these excesses were quickly corrected. Current treatment and oversight routines exceed the standards of any maximum-security prison in the world.
Despite what the public has heard, these are not innocent goatherds but dedicated jihadists whose overriding goal—as they themselves candidly say—is to kill Americans. Should they now be released to return to the fight, perhaps on American soil? Read this book and decide for yourself.
"Long-term detention was definitely not a sought-after mission."
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Matthew Waxman, 2005
When you fly into GuantÃ¡namo, your pilot has to give Cuban airspace a wide berth. It is necessary to track south through the Windward Passage, skirting Cuba lying to your west with the deep green mountains of the Sierra Maestra Range, hideout for the young rebel Fidel Castro and his band, cloaked in semipermanent clouds. Off to the east it is easy to see the island of Hispaniola. The proximity of the country of Haiti makes clear why GuantÃ¡namo is a desirable haven for refugees from that dismal place.
At a predetermined waypoint called East Point on the Global Positioning Satellite system, the pilot banks into a 270-degree track. At South Point the pilot executes a sharp turn to the north, approaching GuantÃ¡namo's airport on a 360-degree course. The east-west...running airstrip is on the western or leeward portion of the U.S. military base. It is the smaller, 14-square-mile area of the facility. From your window you look across a mile-wide bay into the larger portion.
A white strobe light on a tower indicates that the boundary fence is nerve-wrackingly close to the airstrip. Without much room to maneuver, the pilot brings it in tight to the fence line, flips the aircraft over on its right wing, then quickly levels out and drops the nose. The aircraft bangs down on the asphalt.
Just adjacent to the landing strip at GuantÃ¡namo Bay Naval Facility, Cuba...-Gitmo to those wholive there...is a four-foot-high cairn made of mortared round stones. As its brass plaque proclaims, it is a monument commemorating Christopher Columbus's landing on this very spot in his 1496 expedition to the New World.
Columbus, the legend goes, stepped ashore, took a good look around, and having found neither gold nor gems, nor fresh water, nor a particularly appealing landscape, mumbled the equivalent of "this place sucks" in Italian and departed the very next day to find a more hospitable spot.1 Every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and coastguardsman who serves at Gitmo understands Columbus's reaction.
Here are not the legendary white sand beaches of northern Cuba. Nor will the visitor experience the mystery of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The exotic hot spots of Havana are a long way distant. At GuantÃ¡namo Bay, on the extreme southeastern, leeward side of the island of Cuba, the terrain is arid, the vegetation an off-putting mix of desert-tropical, and the Caribbean laps against ancient, brown, eroded coral formations. Odd wildlife abounds. Banana rats, hutia, harmless vegetarian rodents the size of a toy poodle, are everywhere. Their carcasses, paws up on the roadway, feed the local bird, the turkey vulture. Iguanas are ubiquitous...though oddly, the iguana is considered endangered. Run over one and you can be facing a $500 fine. In the western part of the base the GuantÃ¡namo River empties into muddy, unattractive, rock-strewn beaches. Upriver, once weekly on Thursday, a Cuban abattoir dumps offal into the river. The bloody mass floats downriver to the bay, where it provides scores of sharks with a happy hour. The Coast Guardsman on the Viper boat, a 23-foot Boston Whaler configuration with twin 150-horsepower outboards, tells me that he has seen sharks so long that their bodies extend beyond his bow and past his stern. Nobody books a vacation here.
GuantÃ¡namo Bay Naval Station sits on the extreme southeastern tip of Cuba at the mouth of GuantÃ¡namo Bay, roughly at 75 degrees 9 minutes west longitude and 19 degrees 4 minutes north latitude. It is a 45-square-mile, semi-arid coastal leasehold that results from America's seizure of Cuba in the 1898 Spanish-American War.
In 1901 the United States, through passage of the Platt Amendment, granted Cuba independence with some provisos. Article I warned Cuba against "entering into any treaty . . . which would enable a foreign power . . . lodgment in or control over . . . the island." Article VII speaks to a continued U.S. presence. It says, inter alia, that to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the president of the United States.2
By December 1903, the United States leased the land and water for use as a coaling station. In 1934, a treaty solidified the relationship. It granted Cuba free access through the bay (which it maintains today) and an annual payment in gold then valued at $2,000. Though the gold payment is valued at about $4,000 or more today, and checks for that amount are sent to Castro's government on a timely basis, Cuban authorities have yet to deposit one. Why? Because to cash the check would validate the legitimacy of the lease.
Straddling the mouth of the bay, the GuantÃ¡namo base itself is divided into two land parts separated by a wide, island-plentiful bay. Oddly, it seems to the visitor, the airstrip is on the smaller, approximately 14-square-mile leeward side to the west. After arrival visitors must transit the bay by launch, fast boat, or ferry to get to the larger, windward portion. Here is where things are happening.
Offices, housing, and...since 2002...-detention facilities are all located on the 31-square-mile windward (eastern) side. Because relations with the Castro government are strained to say the least, you can't simply drive across the perimeter of the bay, enter into Cuban territory, then come back to the U.S. base. Barbed-wire fences, a cleared zone with mines, and Cuban guards on the far side prevent that. U.S. Marines man the gates on the friendly side. So transit to and from the air terminal is by boat.Inside Gitmo. Copyright © by Gordon Cucullu. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted November 21, 2010
There have many horrific storied in the past years about the tortures and perils of Guantanamo Bay. Stories that sound to terrible to be true, begging the question, are they really true? The book Inside Gitmo by Gordon Cucullu provides facts to these stories and explores the truth behind the myths of Guantanamo Bay. In doing so he finds new stories to be told, un-heard facts about the prison. He also puts and end to other stories that are circulating around this so called "horrible" place. I personally like this book and all the new knowledge i gained from it. It shows you whats really going on down there instead of you having to just believe the common stories you hear. With so much research and first hand experience put into this book, there is no doubt that what your reading is the truth. I recommend this book to someone who likes to read about war, prison, the government or anyone who just wants to read a good book and learn a little bit about there country and whats going on down in Guantanamo Bay. I haven't read any other books quite like this but other books i like that i would recommend that are sort of the same topic is "My Hitch in Hell" and "The Band of Brothers" (book version). This was overall a great book and i would give it a 9 out of 10!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2009
It is clear from reading Inside Gitmo, that the author has invested much of himself, both personally and professionally, in order to finally provide some truths to counter what has been written about Guantanamo Bay to date. The research is top notch....see the companion website for sources listed including links to online documentation which is fantastic. As a masters student of International Relations who is currently researching this topic for my thesis, I have found Lt. Col. Cucullu's book an absolute necessity. This is an amazing book, I would recommend it to anyone who is wanting to know what is really going on inside Gitmo. Many thanks to Lt. Col. Cucullu for bringing these facts to light.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2009
This book should be a must read for all. It gives an insight into what our Military does for us. The facts about how we pamper the enemy is done by no other country in the world. I would recommend this book to all searchers for the truth. The truth is told both good and bad.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 27, 2013
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