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Tour of Guantanamo

Today started before sunrise, largely due to jet-lag, when I watched the sun come up over Camp Justice. I decided to venture of out camp and walked to Glass Beach, the closest beach to where we are staying. There was not a person in sight, and I took the opportunity to take in the scenery and nature. It all seemed very tranquil. The national anthem was later played across Guantanamo and others started to appear from the tents.

A tour of Guantanamo Bay was scheduled for the day and also a tour of Courtroom 2, the courtroom where the 9/11 proceedings are taking place.

The first stop for the day was Sunday Brunch at the BayView restaurant, located on the edge of the Bay with the company of a few iguanas! Brunch was plentiful with a spectacular view across the Bay.

The next stop was the Guantanamo Bay souvenir shop, providing anything and everything Guantanamo Bay related from stuffed iguanas and banana rats to postcards, t-shirts and mugs.

We then received information that Colonel Jacobson would give the NGO’s a view inside the Courtroom where we will be observing the 9/11 proceedings this week. He explained that the courtroom was built in 2008 and is one of the most technologically advanced courtrooms in the world. He explained that the audio of the proceedings will be broadcast in the public gallery with a 40 second delay to avoid any spillage of classified information. He explained the ongoing cases which are taking place and that with the 9/11 trial scheduled to commence in 2021 there are a lot of logistics to organise to prepare for an increase in the number of people who will need to be accommodated for the trial which is scheduled to last at least 9 months. He explained that the jury will be composed of military officers who will be selected from a pool and that jury selection could take some time. He explained the important role which NGOs play in observing proceedings and ensuring transparency. He also informed us that proceedings are broadcast to remote locations in the USA for public, family members, media and first responders to attend.

After the briefing the tour continued with our very knowledgeable and personable escort. We were taken to various locations including, Girl Scout Beach, the lighthouse, Cable Beach, Windmill Beach and the Marina. It was a very interesting to see a different side to Guantanamo Bay than most imagine, it is akin to a small town with all the amenities you would expect.

We were also shown Camp X-Ray, from a distance, which was one of the first temporary detention centres at Guantanamo Bay which was used for a short period in 2002 and is now derelict.

The hearings for this week begin tomorrow and updates will be posted as soon as possible. A full report and analysis of the hearings will be produced upon my return from Guantanamo Bay.


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