The St. Petersburg Times should be proud — their report on Gitmo, Meg Laughlin's Behind Guantanamo's walls, there are more walls, shows a lot more signs of real reporting than much of what you get in more famous newspapers.
When we ask the head psychologist, who calls himself “Eldorado” after the car, about the effects of prolonged solitary confinement, he says: “You see a lot of depression and anxiety.”
But Smo interrupts: “There is no solitary confinement here. They just spend a lot of time alone in their cells.”
To make the point that the detainees want nothing to do with us, the head guard at Camp 5 takes us to a window where he opens a blind so we can see a detainee sitting about 25 feet away. The inmate immediately ties a black plastic bag to a fence to block our view.
“You see how they don't want the media looking at them?” he says.
But we realize we are looking at a latrine and we have been invited to watch them defecate.
By January 2008, when Zanetti was there, detainees who weren't designated as “maximum-security prisoners” were coming up with trivial complaints that showed how spoiled they were.
To make his point, Zanetti read to me from a daily briefing from the first week of April 2008: “Prisoner 765 wants onions and parsley on his salad; 845 wants a better detainee newsletter; 632 wants a Bowflex machine to build his abs.”
But, according to the master list of prisoner names and numbers provided by the Pentagon, prisoners 632 and 845 left Guantanamo in 2006, two years before the complaints, and the number 765 was never assigned to a prisoner. I left Zanetti several phone messages seeking clarification, but he hasn't called back.
Well done, Ms. Laughlin. Don't expect a job on the Washington Post.