Is it just me, or does this sound crazy?
The Pentagon declined to comment.
The official called Gitmo detainees “some of the most pampered prisoners on the planet.”
He said they get as many as four choices of halal meals and have access to a new $750,000 soccer field. Islamic prayer beads and rugs are now “standard issue.” They get their choice of more than 10,000 Islamic books and videos stocked by a Muslim librarian, who also records soccer and Arabic TV for them. They even have their own clerics to preach to them in Arabic.
Everyone gets a Koran, paperback or hardback, along with little hammocks to keep their holy book from touching the ground when not in use.
Guards are prohibited from handling the books. The Muslim librarian is “the only one that’s allowed to touch the Korans anymore, per detainee request,” the official said. “If I went into the Koran room and started rifling through a Koran, I could be fired.”
But no one gets a Bible, because the Bible could “incite” the terrorists.
Detainees even persuaded prison officials to stop raising the American flag anywhere they could see it.
Gitmo is no longer a prison camp; it’s a state-sponsored madrassa. But that’s not good enough for these inmates. They’re now demanding newer facilities and easier access to lawyers. More are threatening hunger strikes and unrest if they don’t get their way.
So the Pentagon is considering plans for a $150million overhaul to what is already the world’s most costly prison per capita. Each inmate at Gitmo costs roughly $800,000 a year to detain, for a total annual operating budget of more than $170 million.
The military already has approved construction projects, including a new $11 million hospital and medical units for detainees, along with a $10 million “legal meeting complex,” where lawyers and human-rights groups can huddle with detainees.
Mostly, this is politics.
“I know some in the military leadership who are trying to make things more comfortable [for the detainees], but it’s not really about making the detainees more comfortable,” said the official. “It’s about placating the Beltway and making the p.r. war shift in our direction a little bit.”
“A lot of these programs stem from that,” he added.