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In Hannity's America, Gitmo Is More Like A Boy Scout Camp Than A Prison Camp

Reported by Ellen - July 1, 2008 -

Sunday nights are when Sean Hannity gets to show us what life is like in his America. On Sunday, June 29, 2008, Hannity brought us "the real story" of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba via author Kyndra Miller Rotunda, (USAR), former Judge Advocate General officer at Guantanamo, and legal counsel to the base commander. According to Rotunda, Gitmo is like a Boy Scout camp.

Guest blogged by Scott

According to Hannity, Rotunda's book claims that every prisoner is issued prayer oils, prayer beads, a prayer cap, and a copy of the Quar'an. Black arrows pointing to Mecca are painted on the ground and on every cell floor. "And traditional Islamic prayer rugs are provided to those who are 'best behaved.'"

As part of "the story you're not hearing," Hannity extrapolated from Rotunda's book that the Red Cross never brought up issues of torture or mistreatment by prison staff. Hannity said, "Instead, The Red Cross requested that the detainees be given Skittles and softer soccer balls." and that "the detainees would eat their meals on picnic benches, and had hours of recreation time. Exercise equipment, as well as basketball hoops, were provided for all to use." And the coup de grace was provided in quotes from a prisoner's letter home. It purportedly describes the beautiful sunsets at Guantanamo Bay, and the same letter closed with, "Wish you were here."

Ms. Rotunda said, "I know there have been a lot of allegations about Guantanamo Bay, but the truth is it's really more like a Boy Scout camp than it is a prison camp.”

In this passage from her book, Rotunda describes life at Guantanamo Bay as she saw it:

"To some extent, yes, it is Club Gitmo. Detainees live in open bays and have up to 12 hours of exercise time each day. During that time they can participate in a number of sports including basketball, soccer, and ping-pong. They also enjoy an extensive library (Harry Potter translated into Arabic is among the most popular titles), a selection of videos, an exercise facility, and even a garden. Detainees receive the call to prayer five times a day and during that time the guards cannot interrupt detainees for at least 20 minutes. This restriction even applies to detainees who are not praying. The best evidence of how detainees are treated in Gitmo is their own report. One was offered release and decided to stay until the weather was warmer in his own country. Another closed his letters home with, "wishing you were here" and a third even asked the U.S. government to move his entire family to Gitmo."

Rotunda stated every point in that passage during her conversation with Hannity, who went on to ask her, "So in other words ... there wasn't constant water-boarding going on; there wasn't torture going on; there wasn't endless interrogation going on; that they had a lot of free time, they were relatively care-free. It sounds like they're even being treated better than, ah, prisoners, ah, convicted in this country. Is that a fair assessment?"

Rotunda replied, "That's absolutely right, and in my book I talk about that... Frankly, they're getting more privileges than any P.O.W. in, in any war before." Rotunda then pulled out the ultimate talking point, "Sure there are plenty of allegations of torture in Guantanamo Bay, the problem is there's just no facts to back it up."

Kyndra Miller Rotunda was stationed at Gitmo from August '02 to March '03.

Comment: Hannity had this one JAG Officer on to dispute the thousands of pages of testimony, hundreds of news reports, reports from international organizations, and the words of DoD and White House officials about the treatment of the P.O.W.s at Guantanamo Bay. Check out the U.N.'s 2006 report, Situation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times' report from October 10, 2003 Red Cross Criticizes Indefinite Detention In Guantanamo Bay, or even The International Committee of the Red Cross itself, in a paper released in February, 2004 titled Report Of The International Committee Of The Red Cross (ICRC) On The Treatment By The Coalition Forces Of Prisoners Of War And Other Protected Persons By The Geneva Conventions In Iraq During Arrest, Internment And Interrogation, and Amnesty International Report 2008, State of the World's Human Rights section on the United States of America.