(CNSNews.com) - Former Army Gitmo prosecutor Kyndra Rotunda told CNSNews.com that some prisoners at
“Interestingly, some detainees were offered release, and asked to stay in Gitmo. They prefer captivity in Gitmo to freedom in their own countries!” Rotunda told CNSNews.com by e-mail.
Far from being tortured, as some protestors outside the White House alleged last week, Rotunda said prisoners at Gitmo are allowed to take classes (with some even receiving “home-schooling”), can read Harry Potter books in Arabic and are given their choice of athletic shoes for playing sports.
What’s more, the Defense Department has even flown in special fruits and nuts for detainees to observe Ramadan, Rotunda said, although the detainees’ request for a goat to be sacrificed was declined--in deference to PETA.
“Most Gitmo detainees live in group housing with open bays and about 10 people to a bay,” she said.
“They are outside of their housing bays for up to 12 hours a day. During that time, they can take classes, visit the library--which has over 5,000 titles, including the Harry Potter series translated into Arabic, which are very popular--exercise, check out movies or games, play sports--detainees can chose from a selection of athletic shoes--or even visit the computer lab.”
Rotunda, who served as a prosecutor in the Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) office while stationed at Gitmo, is now a civilian who teaches military and international law at
The author of “Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials,” a book about her experiences at Gitmo, Rotunda said she recently learned about one detainee who asked, through his lawyer, “for an academic course offering that was more closely tailored to his educational interests and needs.”
“The Pentagon responded affirmatively and assigned lawyers to 'home-school' this detainee,” she said. “These lawyers regularly travel from
Rotunda said that while most detainees live in open bays and “enjoy a lot of flexibility and freedom of movement,” a small handful of detainees (including those awaiting trial), live in a brick and mortar prison, which, she said, is modeled after a prison in
“They have fewer freedoms and privileges, but the conditions meet
But all detainees are allowed to freely exercise their religion, the former Army prosecutor said.
“The Muslim Call to Prayer is broadcasted over loud-speakers 5 times a day,” she added. “During this time, the prison guards are instructed to give each detainee 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, even if the detainee is not praying.”
In fact, the
“When I was in Gitmo, the camp commander hosted a celebration for detainees to mark the end of Ramadan and flew in seasonal nuts and dates for the celebration,” Rotunda said. “The detainees asked the commander to fly in a goat that they could sacrifice. The commander declined that request because he did not want to upset PETA.”
Last week, activists wearing black hoods, protested outside the White House, claiming in a news release that the Obama administration was culpable for the “ongoing torture, mistreatment and indefinite detention of troops at
“Black hoods that are now emblematic of the policies of torture and abuse that the Obama administration inherited from President Bush and has further entrenched,” the group Witness Against Torture said in the press release.
But professor Rotunda said detainees at Gitmo do not wear black hoods and denied that torture had occurred at
“We know that some detainees were water-boarded by the CIA,” the former Army major said. “However, nobody was ever water-boarded at
She added: “After assuming office, President Obama launched yet another investigation, which resulted in a finding that the prison camp in
Rotunda points out that the detainees the
“International Law requires a hearing, which affords very basic procedural protections," she said. "The
In fact, every detainee receives a hearing--called a Combatant Status Review Tribunal--before being detained.
“Additionally, each detainee then receives an annual hearing--called an Annual Review Board--which is essentially a yearly parole board,” she said.
“Releasing enemy combatants back to the battlefield during a time of war is unprecedented and extremely dangerous," Rotunda said. "Some claim that the