Sunday, April 06, 2008

GUANTANAMO BAY PUBLICICISTS VIGILANT FOR MISPERCEPTIONS: Famous American gulag library has 5,000 books, not just 2,000

Around a week ago the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the US military's gulag, Guantanamo Bay, here.

It pricked up the attention of this blog by stating one of the favorite pieces of reading material in a section of the compound was Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," an inspirational book on how to be good worker bee in the US of A.

On Saturday, the Times ran a medium long list of trivial corrections to the original story, pointed out by "Pentagon officials and officers of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo," obviously ever-alert to misperceptions whicy may arise as a result of coverage of their prison. America's reputation may be shit in the rest of the world, George W. Bush a hated figure, and Guantanamo Bay a place where the citizens of other nations believe prisoners -- ah, detainees -- are tortured ... but ... but ... but ... it'll be a cold day in Hell before military publicists and minders let an article in the LA Times get away without immediate correction, lemme tellya.

"The article [on Guantanamo] said that lights were kept on in the cells 24 hours a day for security reasons, and that some prisoners grew their hair long to shield their eyes to sleep," read the Times' corrections page. "Since September, all detainees have been issued sleep masks."

Are they like the ones you used to see in old movies about Hollywood starlets?

"The article said that detainees at Camps 5 and 6 could see each other only during prayer time when an aperture in their cell doors was opened," continued the correction. "The prisoners can also see each other when being escorted to showers or interrogation, during recreation time and when the aperture is opened for meal delivery. The article referred to 'the hour for rec time'; in fact, prisoners are allowed at least two hours of recreation daily."

Now that's a big difference, ain't it?!

The original article said the Guantanamo prisoner's library had only 2,000 books. It has 5,000 corrected the Pentagon. This includes "multiple copies of many titles"!

Multiple copies of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"! Hallelujah!

"The article said that once a prisoner had skipped nine meals he was considered to be on a hunger strike and taken to the medical center where he was force-fed," stated the Times. Medical officials from Guantanamo "[said] hunger strikers are force-fed [with a nasal tube shoved into them] only when their weight has fallen to 85 percent of their ideal body weight and a doctor recommends it."

Now that's one helluva an error. Shame on that newspaper.

The LATimes report on Guantanamo was constructed from information "as gleaned from reporting trips over the last three years" because, um, the US military has an elaborate set of rules governing reporting on the site, rules made to hinder reporting.

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