‘We Don’t Get Much Nobel Prize News Down Here’


MIAMI HERALD: GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Here in the land of limbo, the news of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize landed with more of a whimper than wild enthusiasm among those waging their part in the war on terror. Most troops interviewed this week reflected the surprise of their commander in chief on waking up to the news Friday morning. More than a few hadn’t heard about the award for the president who pledged to empty the prison camps here until they were asked about it in an interview with The Miami Herald. […] Still, the Nobel news did provide a distraction in the cellblocks. Word reached the men “the same day — through family phone calls, through the lawyers, through the live TV they give them,” said a Jordanian-American named Zak who is on contract to the Pentagon to work as the command staff’s cultural adviser. Arabic and Pashto language linguists who work at the camps got the first word not from news reports from Oslo but from the captives themselves, Zak said. “They see it as something good,” he said. “The detainees are waiting, just like everyone else, to see what Jan. 22 brings. We are all in limbo. We don’t know.” nobel-medal.thumbnail.jpgMoreover, the prize is likely to feed the fascination with the new American president among the detainees who learned of his election the very same night in November and taunted their captors with chants of “Obama, Obama, Obama.” Since then, copies of Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope — both in English — have been in hot demand at the detention center library, reported Rosario, a civilian librarian who declined to give her full name to reporters during a recent visit by Dutch and Belgian TV crews. Camp staff ordered 10 copies each about three months ago through the Pentagon’s requisition program, she said. But they had yet to arrive, leaving the single copies in constant circulation. MORE

gitmo2.thumbnail.jpgRELATED: While politicians across America furiously resist the idea of transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to their communities, one small Michigan town is lobbying to get them. Standish, Mich., Mayor Kevin King is looking at the terrorism suspects as a possible new lease on life for the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility, a major source of economic activity for his town that is scheduled to close at the end of this month. It has been a lonely struggle, however. His proposal has angered state lawmakers who want involvement in the process, divided the region’s residents and prompted a series of heated town-hall meetings. Mr. King says that unless a way is found to keep the prison open, his community of 1,500 people will face economic devastation and be on the hook for millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements planned to service the prison. MORE

RELATED: Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Tuesday he was committed to President Barack Obama’s goal of closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay and was firming up which inmates Spain would take. Zapatero, in his first Oval Office visit since pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq in chomskyinterventions.jpg2004, did not say exactly how many inmates from the U.S. military prison in Cuba his country would accept. Some news reports have said Spain would take no more than three. MORE

ALSO: Professor Noam Chomsky may be among America’s most enduring anti-war activists. But the leftist intellectual’s anthology of post 9/11 commentary is taboo at Guantánamo’s prison camp library, which offers books and videos on Harry Potter, World Cup soccer and Islam. U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer’s donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor’s 2007 anthology Interventions for the library, which has more than 16,000 items. Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, reacted with irritation and derision. “This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes,” he told The Miami Herald by e-mail after learning of the decision. “Of some incidental interest, perhaps, is the nature of the book they banned. It consists of op-eds written for The New York Times syndicate and distributed by them. The subversive rot must run very deep.” MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *