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I. Invitation to Cuba

II. The Psychology of Terrorists

III. Drexel University

IV. November 8, 2006

V. The Psychology of Captivity

VI. The Psychology of Prisons

VII. The Psychology of War

VIII. Preparations

IX. 1934

X. November 13, 2006

XI. Takeoff

XII. In The Air

XIII. Arrival at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

XIV. Briefing at Headquarters of the Joint Task Force

XV. Lunch

XVI. Guard Duty

XVII. Camp Delta

XVIII. Medical Treatment

XIX. Behavioral Services

XX. Camp 5

XXI. Departure from Guantanamo Bay

The Legitimacy of GTMO: An Eyewitness Report

A Travel Journal by Dr. Eric A. Zillmer
Pacifico Professor of Psychology at Drexel University

Invitation to Cuba
October 12, 2006 (Drexel University)

“I invite you to join a select group of distinguished visitors to visit the detainee health facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) on November 13th, 2006 in order to take a first-hand look at the facilities,meet medical staff and behavioral science consultants to interrogators, and review policies and practices pertinent to detainee care and management.”

This was an invitation I received from the Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon to visit GTMO. The care and interrogation techniques of the detainees at GTMO had become a political hot button and a topic of worldwide concern. Some believe that GTMO is the most controversial place on earth.

“Areas of special interest include medical ethical issues involved in providing appropriate medical evaluation and care to those in Department of Defense (DoD) custody, formulating responses to hunger strike, and support for humane interrogation processes,” the letter continued.

For critics of the U.S. policy on Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has become a poster child for everything that has gone wrong with the War on Terrorism, the centerpiece of the U.S.’s foreign policy. No other U.S. military base has caused such a flurry of controversy, with most of the criticism leveled directly at President George W. Bush himself for his policies on dealing with prisoners of war (POW) and detainees captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations as a part of the War on Terrorism.

There have been reports of alleged detainee abuse, including humiliation, abusive interrogation methods, incidents of forced feeding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and isolation, among others that have led to comparing Guantanamo Bay to the prison abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq.

The military’s policies on interrogations have been questioned in view of allegations of using psychologists and relying on “confidential” medical information to extract intelligence from detainees. This has led to many people questioning the legality of the administration’s policies governing the detainees, including a lack of due process, alleged violations of the Geneva Convention treaty, a resistance to labeling them detainees instead of “Prisoners of War,” and a lack of access to legal counsel and judicial oversight.

The criticisms of Guantanamo’s detention policies have resulted in numerous negative websites,media reports, even several books and a controversial movie. According to critics, the alleged human rights debacle and U.S. failed foreign policies are no more evident than at Guantanamo Bay.

But is it true? After all, we are at war. I would like to judge for myself the quality of care offered to detainees and what the status of Guantanamo Bay is today. To the invitation, I responded in the affirmative and waited for additional specifics on the trip to GTMO.