Guantanamo detainees receive more privileges than U.S. citizens receive in American prisons, Kyndra Rotunda, a former military lawyer assigned to Gitmo, tells Newsmax.
Maj. Rotunda, who was at Gitmo from 2002 to 2006 while in the U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve, says Australian Taliban member David Hicks demanded — and received — an $800 Brooks Brothers suit to wear in court. Despite the spiffy suit paid for by U.S. taxpayers, Hicks was convicted.
Another detainee was offered his freedom but responded by saying, “No, thanks.”
The detainee said the weather was not very nice in his country then, and he’d rather be released in the spring.
“People say that Gitmo is a gulag of our time, like a concentration camp,” Rotunda says. “That’s not true.”
Rotunda’s book, “Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials,” has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. That’s not surprising: It doesn’t fit with their story line.
Rotunda notes that at Guantanamo, detainees live in open bays, eat meals on picnic tables, and serve themselves food from large pots. For those who have lost limbs, the military fitted them with state-of-the-art prosthetics.
“They can garden,” says Rotunda. “They can check out videos. They can take classes in English or in their native language. There are all kinds of sports. They get a selection of Nike tennis shoes to choose from.”
As Muslims, detainees receive halal meals.
“The average detainee has gained about 15 pounds,” Rotunda says. “Detainees are very picky. Like if there’s a piece of fruit that has a bruise or is at all bad, they send it back, and the military just takes it back and gives them something a little fresher.”
At Guantanamo, Rotunda says, “Everything has to come from Florida, and it comes on this big barge. So I mean we often didn’t have fresh fruit ourselves, and everything wasn’t exactly perfect. We just lived with it. But the detainees were pretty upset about that sometimes.”
At one point, Rotunda was liaison to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had a trailer at the camp’s gate and would request entry on a random basis.
“They had better access to the camp than I did,” Rotunda says. “They wanted to be able to literally keep an eye on the camp 24/7. So the military accommodated that.”
Every week, the Red Cross met with the camp commander to discuss its findings and request improvements.
“Their concerns were so trivial you wouldn’t believe it,” Rotunda says. “They were asking for more Skittles for the detainees, the little rainbow-colored candies. The detainees were getting Skittles with their meals, and they liked them, so the Red Cross said, ‘They really like this candy. Can you give them more candy?’”
Another Red Cross concern was that detainees wanted a regular soccer ball instead of a squishy one. Detainees also objected to a female guard escorting or handcuffing them.
“So the military told her just to stand down,” Rotunda says. “Get out of the way and let the male guards handle it. I thought that was really outrageous. We were engaging in gender discrimination to appease the detainees.”
Ralph Reed Says McCain Can Win
Unlike former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan, Ralph Reed says he considers whatever he learns in confidential meetings as a political strategist to be privileged information. But he told a crowd at Washington’s Dezenhall Resources, which specializes in crisis management, that his novel “Dark Horse” gives a true account of how politics really works. Indeed, Karl Rove says it “crackles with real-life political drama.”
As for the presidential race, despite all the gloom and doom in Republican quarters, Reed believes John McCain can win.
“This is the toughest environment for a Republican presidential candidate since Watergate,” he says. “Yet Obama is within the margin of error and can’t close this sale. Why?”
Because, Reed says, Obama is the most liberal and out-of-the-mainstream nominee of a major party since the primary system emerged in the 1950s as a major force in nominating candidates,” Reed says. “If McCain is going to run a campaign on the issues and substance, as I believe he will, I think McCain can win this election. I would go further and say he may be the only Republican candidate who can win in this environment.”
Speaking of McClellan and his revisionist criticism of President Bush, when he showed up at Tony Snow’s funeral, Ari Fleischer and other colleagues looked in the other direction. In contrast, they warmly greeted Dee Dee Myers and other former press secretaries who served Democrats.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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