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.
Gordon Cucullu is a retired army colonel and the author of Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin. He lives in St. Augustine, Florida.