"Fox News Guest: Gitmo Is ‘Really More Like A Boy Scout Camp Than It Is A Prison Camp’"
On his “Hannity’s America” show on Sunday, Fox News host Sean Hannity brought on former Judge Advocate General (JAG) Kyndra Miller Rotunda, who has publicly blasted the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Guantanamo as one that “puts soldiers at great risk.” Rotunda and Hannity attempted to repaint Guantanamo Bay as a picturesque retreat akin to a Boy Scout camp:
ROTUNDA: [T]he truth is, it’s really more like a Boy Scout camp than it is a prison camp. [...]
They get up to 12-hours of exercise time a day and they have all kinds of activities. They can play ping-pong, basketball, soccer. They have their own garden. They can check out library books. They have 5,000 titles. Their favorite is the Harry Potter series. [...]
HANNITY: So in other words for the — there wasn’t constant waterboarding going on, there wasn’t torture going on, there wasn’t endless interrogation going on, that they have a lot of free time. They were relatively carefree. … Is that a fair assessment?
ROTUNDA: That is absolutely right.
When asked by Hannity if she had ever “witness[ed] any torture,” Rotunda replied, “None at all, no.” Watch it:
It’s amazing that Hannity was able to find even one JAG that would make these assertions, since they contradict thousands of pages of reports about the deplorable conditions at the detention camp. FBI agents who worked at the facility have reported that detainees were subjected to harsh conditions, including “the use of growling dogs,” at least as recently as 2004:
Detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves, an FBI agent who said he witnessed such abuse reported in a memo to supervisors.
A comparison of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and a Boy Scout camp — two locations that could be confused only in Hannity’s America:
So by the right wing’s logic, it’s ok to indefinitely detain hundreds of men — many of whom are likely innocent — as long as the prison’s conditions aren’t completely terrible? Roughly 270 men remain at the prison facility, some of whom have been held more than six years. Many detainees have committed suicide, which the International Committee of the Red Cross has said are “a direct result of the uncertainties of their situations.”
HANNITY: Major Rotunda, thank you for being with us on HANNITY’S AMERICA. Thanks for being here.
MAJOR KYNDRA ROTUNDA, “HONOR BOUND”: Thank you. I’m happy to be with you.
HANNITY: Why don’t we talk a little bit about your background and your desire, you choice, your request to go to Gitmo?
ROTUNDA: Well, I started my career in the JAG corps. I was stationed at Walter Reed on 9/11 when the Pentagon was attacked. And shortly thereafter it was time for me to start looking for another assignment. When I learned that detainees were being held at Guantanamo Bay I knew that that was going to be the legal front. And it’s where — and that’s where I wanted to go so I started lobbying –
ROTUNDA: — for a position to do that.
HANNITY: All right. How long were you there? What was your role and how close were you to those being detained there?
ROTUNDA: Well, I was in Guantanamo Bay from August of `02 through March of ’03, so about seven months. My role was to be the legal adviser to the camp commander. And so I advised him on legal issues and I also liaised and worked very closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
HANNITY: Right. Well, I think for a lot of our audience — I think one of the big questions is the treatment of the enemy combatants that are there. For example, we talk in our package about basketball, about ping-pong, about religious considerations that were made there.
Can you explain in detail? They were considerable, were they not?
ROTUNDA: Oh, they’re very considerable, Sean. Look, I know there is been a lot of allegations about Guantanamo Bay. But the truth is, it’s really more like a Boy Scout camp than it is a prison camp.
These detainees live in open bay. They live 10 to (INAUDIBLE). They get up to 12-hours of exercise time a day and they have all kinds of activities. They can play ping-pong, basketball, soccer. They have their own garden. They can check out library books. They have 5,000 titles. Their favorite is the Harry Potter series. They can even take classes — you know all kinds of privileges.
HANNITY: So in other words for the — there wasn’t constant waterboarding going on, there wasn’t torture going on, there wasn’t endless interrogation going on, that they have a lot of free time. They were relatively carefree. At times like they were even being treated better than prisoners convicted in this country.
Is that a fair assessment?
ROTUNDA: That is absolutely right. And in my book I talk about that. In fact, the Supreme Court have just upheld conditions in an Ohio prison that are much more harsh. And remember, these are U.S. citizens in a U.S. prison. It’s upheld very harsh conditions that aren’t anything like Guantanamo Bay.
And they’re — frankly they are getting more privileges than any POW in any war before. And so — yes, there’s a lot of criticism. Sure, there are plenty of allegations of torture in Guantanamo Bay. The problem is there are just no facts to back it up.
HANNITY: Well, you know — as somebody who’s there, this is so important for people to hear. I want you to go into detail, as you do in your book, about the religious considerations that are offered to the enemy combatants.
ROTUNDA: OK. Right. Well, the detainees — first of all they point arrows to Mecca every where around the camp so that the detainees know where to pray. They are issued prayer oil, prayer beads, prayer caps, prayer masks. They get — five times a day they get to call to prayer where they get 20 minutes of uninterrupted time.
The military puts that prayer cones that you cannot interrupt the detainees. You have to leave them alone during that time, even if they are not praying.
HANNITY: For just for the record you never witnessed any torture?
ROTUNDA: None at all, no.
HANNITY: And you’ve never witnessed any Korans being flushed down the toilet?
ROTUNDA: Not at all. In fact, you know, the Korans in Guantanamo Bay — and I think this is a bad idea, and I talk about this in my book. They are off limits to the U.S. guards. So when guards go in to search a cell they cannot touch the Koran.
Well, of course, all that does is just invite –
ROTUNDA: — the detainees to hide weapons and contrabands.
ROTUNDA: — in the Koran. So that’s what they do and they attack guards.
HANNITY: Well, yes. Why wouldn’t they when they no that those Korans are not going to be checked.
HANNITY: Thank you very much for being with us.
ROTUNDA: Thank you.
HANNITY: I think you gave a great insight for our audience and we appreciate your time. Thank you.
ROTUNDA: Thank you. Pleasure to be with you.