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24 Oct, 2013 07:26

RT pierces Gitmo censorship: ‘Transparency’ is subjective at Guantanamo Bay (VIDEO)

Despite constant repetition of the word “transparency” by US military officials at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, RT went to the base to see first-hand the trademark obfuscation that guides the world’s view of the secretive prison.

RT’s Anastasia Churkina went to Guantanamo Bay to report on media access to the conditions at the prison. She saw for herself just how operators of the notorious prison housing supposed terror suspects - half of which have been cleared for release but are still held due to security concerns and some who have languished for years simply waiting for charges - attempt to portray a kinder, gentler Gitmo as opposed to its reputation as a legal black hole, void of consistent standards and protocols since its opening following the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Churkina reports that her experience at the camp was highly-managed, and any attempts by her or her cameraman to get a true glimpse at detainee life were quickly prevented.

“Even though transparency’s a word brought up by all the personnel we talked to on the ground, we, as journalists - access to detainees aside - are asked to be very careful about the shots we filmed, all the backdrops,” Churkina reports. “At the end of each day, videos are reviewed, and any shots deemed unacceptable are deleted.”

She says not only are audio and video censored by Gitmo personnel, but sketches are carefully studied and cell phones are outright banned.

“The said purpose of these ground rules? To protect the safety and security of Gitmo operations,” Churkina reports, saying she received a mandatory introduction to media rules called an “Operation Security Briefing.”

“We are warned violations of ground rules may result in restricted access, denial of future visits and/or removal from Guantanamo.”


RT’s only opportunity to see a detainee - through a dark-glass window - lasts barely one minute. When asking for more, she’s told by a high-ranking admiral the policy of shielding detainees from journalist is based “out of respect for them and not making them ... some curiosity on film ... we don’t want to do that.”

Churkina reports maybe the next-best insight they got into detainees’ lives occurred during their tour of Gitmo’s cafeteria and what the prisoners are fed. As for a snapshot into base life for personnel, they were taken to the local radio station for those living on the US Navy installation at the southern edge of Cuba.

“Music, sports and talk radio. Pure infotainment reigns here,” Churkina reports. “And so we learn we’re not the only ones simply being treated to a show.”