My Trip to Guantanamo Bay
Today, Monday, 3 November 2014, has been an eventful day.
The day began by arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 7:00 a.m. to be escorted through the gate to the air terminal. After checking in and being issued my ticket I waited in the terminal until all the other NGO’s had assembled. While we were waiting (several hours) we introduced ourselves to each other. There are 10 NGO’s representing a variety of organizations from around the country who are participating.
Copy of Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual.
I also took the opportunity to pass out copies of the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trail Manual for U.S. Military Commissions that Prof. George Edwards and his Indian a University McKinney School of Law students have been working on. The Manual was much appreciated by everyone, and will be very useful for all the NGO’s during the hearings.
The only other delay in getting ready to depart was a brief diversion outside while the Secret Service swept the terminal in preparation for Vice President Biden’s departure on a different plane.
Our flight to Cuba; Landing at GTMO
The flight to Cuba was uneventful. The charter flight was about 3 hours long (It would have been closer to 2 hr. 15 min. if Cuba permitted us to fly over the island).
Once we landed at Guantanamo Bay we unloaded and waited to go through document check in. From there everyone boarded vans to drive down to the dock to catch the ferry across the bay to the main part of the base. From there we were driven to Camp Justice which is a tent city that has been set up on the old WWII vintage runway that is no longer in use. We had some time to get settled into our bunks, fortunately while each tent sleeps 8 there were only 4 men and 2 male tents so we had plenty of room with just 2 per tent.
Arriving at Camp Justice — Our tent city home for the week.
After getting settled in, we made a trip to the base NEX to stock up on supplies. The NEX is pretty much like a small town Walmart and has all of the essentials. After that trip we headed back to our tents again and then rendezvoused shortly thereafter for our meeting with General Martins who is the lead prosecutor for the Military Commissions.
Meeting with General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor
I will post a blog that discusses this meeting in more detail, but I was extremely impressed with Gen. Martins and the few members of his team that he had with him. We had over an hour and a half with him and we were able to ask him pretty much anything we wanted. Even with some of the more challenging questions that were asked, he answered directly and faced some of the particularly challenging issues head on. Again, I will have a separate post covering this meeting.
Some of the tents in Camp Justice. It is built on an abandoned WW II air strip.
A Jamaican Dinner; Day’s End; Tomorrow
After our meeting with Gen. Martins we all loaded into the van for a short ride to the Jamaican Jerk Chicken restaurant. The food was great and we enjoyed the very pleasant evening weather. From there it was back to Camp Justice for a few conversations among the group about our day so far and our meeting with Gen. Martins.
My bed in my Camp Justice tent.
Based on the current itinerary, we are scheduled to reconvene for breakfast tomorrow (Tues.) get our credentials, possibly have a boat tour around the base and work on some of our various projects.
What About WiFi?
I have to say that the internet issue is as bad as I had been warned it was. It seems like everywhere we go everyone is checking their phones and computers to see if we have stumbled on a Wi-Fi signal that we can access. When we are lucky enough to get a signal the speed is extremely slow.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to post this sometime tomorrow (Tuesday)!