Liz Goodwin for Yahoo! News has a new column asking, “Why isn’t the media allowed to talk to Guantanamo detainees?”
The answer, according to the military, is that the Geneva Conventions dictate that prisoners of war must be protected from “insult and public curiosity.”
Instead of being able to interact directly with the prisoners, members of the news media are allowed to view them through a one-way glass window. Goodwin writes:
If we got close to the glass, we could see the prisoners, but they couldn’t see us. The guards warned us to be quiet and not use any flashes on our cameras, so that we’d remain unseen and unheard. …
I pressed my face against the glass, and saw a middle-aged, bearded man shuffling around in flip-flops and tan scrubs. He was holding a remote control, flipping through channels on the TV in the center of the room, which was shared by approximately 20 prisoners. Meanwhile, a photographer on the media tour tried frantically to get a good shot of the man in the low light with his telephoto lens pressed against the window. At one point, the prisoner absently opened a Styrofoam container of food on the metal picnic table in the center of the room and picked up what appeared to be a bread roll. “Look, he’s eating!” I heard myself whisper.