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Director Goes Inside Gitmo and Shares Experience With Us

Since the beginning of the War on Terror the US prison at Guantanamo Bay has sat under a cloud of controversy and in the middle of legal limbo. Suspected terrorists and innocent alike have been kept in the wire-enclosed camp in Cuba, outside the reach of American courts. National Geographic captured the day-to-day life in the prison for the film Explorer: Inside Guantanamo which airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.

The documentary highlights hardworking military guards, former detainees, and the depressing reality of men being held for years without charges. The director Bonni Cohen took time to answer some of my questions. Check out her thoughts on whether the detainees will make it to US soil, the professional nature of the camp, and how Guantanamo is different than a typical prison. And stop by tomorrow for the second part of my interview.

Will detainees make it to US soil? Interestingly some of the more liberal habeas attorneys are saying now, "Well God, if they have to stay in detention, Guantanamo is better than being moved somewhere in the United States. At least they have each other." I think that even the detainees would think they're in a better position where they are now, than if they would be moved to the United States. I don't think moving them to the US is really going to happen. . . The idea now is returning as many of these men back home many of them have been cleared to go home. . . There are certain number of them, these hardcore guys, and we know who they are, that are never going to get out.

On the professional nature of the camp: Of course everybody thinks it was staged for us. But that just was not the case. For some reason American journalists would rather just continue to believe whatever it is that they have believed for the last seven years without any gradation of changes, it's just bizarre for me. You can't go into a place for three weeks and have the entire thing be staged for you.


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To see what Bonni thinks about the conditions at Gitmo, and for a preview from the film,

.

How is Guantanamo different than other high security prisons? The big difference between a max prison and Guantanamo is that the guys (in the US) know why they're there, and they know how long they're going to be there. They know when they're getting out and they've had a chance to defend themselves. That's the biggest difference. In terms of the overall conditions, I think they're probably a little bit better at Guantanamo. I think the psychological conditions are much more grueling at Gitmo.

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stephley stephley 7 years
Not really, but I doubt it's worth pursuing.
stephley stephley 7 years
Not really, but I doubt it's worth pursuing.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
My comment was based on the article and particularly "American journalists would rather just continue to believe whatever it is that they have believed for the last seven years without any gradation of changes, it's just bizarre for me." I hope that clarifies it for you.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
My comment was based on the article and particularly "American journalists would rather just continue to believe whatever it is that they have believed for the last seven years without any gradation of changes, it's just bizarre for me."I hope that clarifies it for you.
stephley stephley 7 years
So you haven't seen it, but you're pretty sure the director's full of b.s.? The issues with Guantanamo have nothing to do with the facility being new - what isn't 'built from scratch'? "New" facilities do not require that people are kept in solitary confinement or tortured.
stephley stephley 7 years
So you haven't seen it, but you're pretty sure the director's full of b.s.?The issues with Guantanamo have nothing to do with the facility being new - what isn't 'built from scratch'? "New" facilities do not require that people are kept in solitary confinement or tortured.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
Steph, sorry do not have National Geographic Channel.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
Hypno, The prison was basicly built from scratch, and over time improved. That is the way it is in the military, utility (the mission) first, everything else second. My son lived in a tent, on land that when it rained, turned into muck. He was amongst the first into Bosnia. Over time situation improved in our military personnel's lives. The prisoners lived under better conditions then the guards from day one. The mission comes first.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Change started at Guantanamo the moment the first investigator sounded the alarm and that was years ago so reason would have it that during this taping some significant change should have already taken place by executive order from the Bush and now Obama administration that's just a given. I'm glad to see the change and as long as the change is legal by our own laws and standards by which (we) gave our word to the world I'm cool with Gitmo prison staying open. It's not being closed because their doing the right thing now it's being closed because of the stigma of what went wrong there and the world can't seem to scrape the bad taste off their tongue.
stephley stephley 7 years
Did you watch the documentary? "It is more like he believed all the propaganda on the evils of Guantanamo, got there and found it wasn't true. Rather then admit to be mistaken, he chooses to believe everything in Guantanamo changed for the better, under what..Obama?"You can't prove a negative, so you'll challenge the director's credibility based on what? What's your context?
stephley stephley 7 years
Did you watch the documentary? "It is more like he believed all the propaganda on the evils of Guantanamo, got there and found it wasn't true. Rather then admit to be mistaken, he chooses to believe everything in Guantanamo changed for the better, under what..Obama?" You can't prove a negative, so you'll challenge the director's credibility based on what? What's your context?
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
You know something like "during my last visit on X date I noticed that a,b,c, have changed for the better. You know it is called "context"
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
Steph, You know you can't prove a negative, I want to know what was her frame of reference. Explain what has changed. Document with dates.
stephley stephley 7 years
The director is a she. What's your frame of reference for being so certain that she's lying or misinformed?
stephley stephley 7 years
The director is a she. What's your frame of reference for being so certain that she's lying or misinformed?
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
Changed? What BS, did he spend three weeks there before, so he has a frame of reference? It is more like he believed all the propaganda on the evils of Guantanamo, got there and found it wasn't true. Rather then admit to be mistaken, he chooses to believe everything in Guantanamo changed for the better, under what..Obama?
stephley stephley 7 years
I think you're missing the point. The documentary director is saying that things have changed at Guantanamo and some people are not willing to believe that, not that nothing bad has ever happened there. I assume by "There are accusations, but no proof, and no charges. I understand that an investigation is going on, but after how many years(?) you'd think they'd have found something" you mean accusations against the Bush Administration - and that you're not saying what it sounds like you're saying: that there are accusations but no proof or charges against the detainees after all these years.
stephley stephley 7 years
I think you're missing the point. The documentary director is saying that things have changed at Guantanamo and some people are not willing to believe that, not that nothing bad has ever happened there. I assume by "There are accusations, but no proof, and no charges. I understand that an investigation is going on, but after how many years(?) you'd think they'd have found something" you mean accusations against the Bush Administration - and that you're not saying what it sounds like you're saying: that there are accusations but no proof or charges against the detainees after all these years.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
There are accusations, but no proof, and no charges. I understand that an investigation is going on, but after how many years(?) you'd think they'd have found something.
stephley stephley 7 years
But that's not exactly what she's saying Dave. There's what's been said and done for years, and there's now - the reference to a 'gradation of changes' is the key.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
"can't go into a place for three weeks and have the entire thing be staged for you." It's much easier to believe the lies that are being told, and have been told for years, than to believe that what you are seeing now is exactely what has been going on, for years.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
"can't go into a place for three weeks and have the entire thing be staged for you."It's much easier to believe the lies that are being told, and have been told for years, than to believe that what you are seeing now is exactely what has been going on, for years.
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