My First Afternoon at Guantanamo Bay (Jeff Papa)

Jeff Papa - At Camp Justice - GTMO - 14 September 2014

“Camp Justice” is the name of the barracks-like Tent City where NGOs are housed at Guantanamo Bay. Immediately to my left, out of the camera’s view, is the court house complex.

  Andrews Air Force Base – Early Sunday Morning

The military instructed us to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base no later than 0630 this morning for our 10 am flight to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There was some confusion since the address given for the Andrews Visitor Center was apparently wrong. Several of the nine Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representatives traveling with us arrived at the Andrews main gate, and got turned back. One of our escorts arrived at 6:30 and transported us to the air terminal on the base.

Flying to Guantanamo

As those familiar with the GTMO process know, the planes to Guantanamo contain many different categories of participants, including the presiding officers, defense counsel, prosecution, victims’ family members, NGO representatives, and the media. Today was no different. We met several of these people, including Carol Rosenburg of the Miami Herald who routinely covers GITMO proceedings (she mentioned Indiana’s own Justice Steve David, who served here previously).

The flight to Guantanamo was a little over three hours. The weather on arrival was perfect – blue sky and temperatures in the 80s.

This is my bed for the next few days at Guantanamo Bay. They keep the tents very cold to discourage insects, banana rats and iguanas.

This is my bed for the next few days at Guantanamo Bay. They keep the tents very cold to discourage bugs, banana rats and iguanas.

We took a ferry from the airfield across the bay to the main base area and were escorted to our quarters – barracks-like tents kept ice cold to discourage bugs, banana rats and iguanas from intruding.

No more WiFi.

Unfortunately, a change in access now prevents non-military persons (like the NGOs) from accessing WiFi in the area where our tents are. No mainland U.S. wireless carriers function here. We also have no access to Cuban carriers.

We received photo identification badges that give us access to the courtroom. We then visited the Navy Exchange store for supplies. Still no WiFi was available.

We finally found a restaurant with extremely slow WiFi some distance away – but too slow to upload or download much more than email (thus no photos with this posting, at least not today).

front cover - Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist

Front cover of Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist. It has been well-received at Guantanamo Bay.

 Sunday Afternoon Business

Prosecution and defense counsel met with the judge this afternoon to review the schedule for this week’s hearing. It is rumored that tomorrow’s hearing may start late as defense counsel is transitioning and the accused, Hadi al Iraqi, has not yet met the incoming counsel.

Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist a “Must Have”

The newest draft of the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist prepared by Professor George Edwards and his law students at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law has been well-received by the other NGO representatives (a very diverse group). I believe the Checklist is quickly becoming the “must have” guide for NGOs observing GITMO proceedings.

NB:  Update just in… Hearings will not begin until 1300 hours tomorrow (Monday afternoon, instead of 9:00 in the morning as scheduled). And a few photos made it through the slow internet connection.

Jeff Papa - Camp Justice Sign - long one -- GTMO -- 14 September 2014

Another view of the front of Camp Justice.


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