You’ve Done Nothing But Cause Harm
In its latest effort to push the Bush administration into closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Amnesty International is challenging Americans to become ersatz detainees.
The human-rights organization is taking a replica of an actual Guantanamo cell around the country for what it calls the "Experience Guantanamo" project. Weighing nearly a ton, the cell is a facsimile of the one that housed David Hicks, the Australian detainee who was extradited from Guantanamo in 2007 after spending nearly five years there. The cell’s dimensions — 10 feet long, six feet wide and eight feet high — replicate those at Guantanamo’s Camp Five, the first facility in the detention complex modeled on a maximum-security Indiana prison.
As I say in the piece, I went to Guantanamo Bay on a four-day press tour in July 2005. Seeing the replica Camp 5 cell — they had just built Camp 5 a few months before I got there — was nothing short of eerie. Here’s what James Yee told me:
One visitor to Amnesty’s demonstration had a tumultuous history with the detention complex. Army Capt. James Yee was a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo in 2002 and 2003, when he was arrested on suspicion of espionage and detained at the Naval brig in Charleston, S.C., for six months. All charges were eventually dropped. "I lived in a cell like this in South Carolina," said Yee. Seeing the replica, he said, "brought back "vivid nightmares."
Yee explained that he had come to Washington primarily for a family vacation, but also to watch a House Judiciary panel tomorrow that is expected to feature the Guantanamo defenders David Addington, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, and John Yoo, the former Justice Dept. lawyer who advocated torture in an infamous August 2002 memo. "I would ask them if, at any time, they had any concern for the reputation of our country," he said.
And because at the Windy we’re so web2.0, I should have a video piece up shortly that I’ll post here as well. Windymedia!