In anticipation of Obama’s term. A taste of things to come? Incidentally, why not also teach the jihadists to be stand-up comics — they seem so serious all the time?
“Guantanamo detainees to have art lessons and video games to distract from jihad,” by Tom Leonard for the Telegraph, November 24 (thanks to Christopher):
Terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay are to be offered art classes, Game Boys and film nights to distract them from thoughts of global jihad.
Detention camp staff at the US Navy base in Cuba are already teaching English to the 255 inmates despite fears that it might allow them to eavesdrop on their guards.
Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has promised to close the camp, which was set up to hold foreign terrorism suspects captured after the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
However, convinced that such a decision is a long way from being carried out, camp staff are attempting to soften the notoriously Spartan existence of Guantanamo inmates.
So prisoners who do not receive Game Boys are living a “Spartan existence”? My how the connotations of that word have changed.
“We want to keep their brains stimulated. We’re not here to give degrees,” Zak, the camp’s Arab-American cultural advisor, told the Miami Herald.
“Once they are engaged and busy, they leave the guards alone.”
Initiatives will include circulating Egyptian newspapers and Game Boy-style electronic games around the tiny cells and holding more “movie nights” featuring pre-recorded sport.
Art and geology classes will also be offered, although the former will not include sharp objects. Prisoners are already allowed to have crayons and Zak said some were “good artists”.
Geology was chosen as a subject because it is grounded in earth and science issues rather than more sensitive areas such as politics and religion, he said.
“They draw greeting cards for family. They draw weapons,” he said. “They draw whatever they want. You can’t stop a detainee from thinking.” Kristin Wilhelm, a lawyer who represents Guantanamo detainees, said the cultural programme was seven years too late.
She said that when one of her clients made greetings cards for people at her law firm, camp censors stamped each of them “secret” and confiscated them.
“It was always my view that the government was afraid to allow the drawings to be released, because it humanised my client,” she said.