FIVE years after the establisment of the Guantanamo prison camp, angry protests demand immediate release of the "unfortunate innocents." Are the protestors waving "Bushitler" signs right? Is Gitmo a hotbed of Inquisition-style torture that should be closed, and its detainees freed?
Last month, on my fifth and longest trip to Guantanamo, I toured the newly opened, ultra-modern Camp VI, a maximum-security prison modeled after a Michigan county prison. Combined with the holding capacity of Camp V, also very modern, it can hold just about all of Gitmo's reduced detainee population.
Why even bother to interrogate these guys? "Because they tell us of things that have enormous strategic value," says Rester. Background on al Qaeda recruiting, training, money-laundering, bogus front charities, bomb-making, sleeper-cell placement, types of operations, organizational long-term goals and objectives, and details of leadership personalities all come from Guantanamo interrogations.
Investigators such as the vaunted 9/11 Commission complain vociferously of a lack of available human-intelligence sources. "Guantanamo is the single largest repository of terrorist, al Qaeda HUMINT on the planet," Rester observed. "And we are still mining it."
In short, Gitmo keeps behind bars bad guys who would inflict terrible pain on America and our friends. From these same men, it gets vital information that has had and continues to have a major positive effect on prosecution of the war - information that has broken up operative cells in America and Europe, stifled recruiting, intercepted money trails and set the terrorists back on their heels.
If that is the sum of five years' work, then well done, Guantanamo, well done indeed.
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