James Zender

Final Days at GTMO – 30 – 31 May 2014


James Zender, IU McKinney Law School JD graduate, at Guantanamo Bay in May 2014.

On the final two days of scheduled hearing days at Guantanamo Bay, the hearings either ended early or were deemed classified. The NGO Observers were excluded from classified hearings. Thus, we had lots of time to explore Guantanamo Bay.

What to do at GTMO when there are no hearings?

With significant down time when we can’t monitor hearings, there were still a number of ways for us to fill our time in Guantanamo.

The Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) wing of the military has a heavy presence and their mission is to ensure military members have relaxing and appropriate non-work related activities to maintain somewhat of a normalized life experience in such a secluded location. They have an outdoor movie theater that plays brand new movies most evenings. They provide cook out facilities at the beach. There is a golf course and dive shop. With time to kill, we were able to take our pick on how we wanted to pass our time.

Radio Gitmo

Our first stop was Radio Gitmo, which is in charge of the airwaves on base. They host three radio stations and sell a popular Fidel Castro bobble head. After a tour of the facilities (I had never been in a radio station before) we got to see the back room where they still maintain a huge collection of vinyls. Our guide noted it was the largest vinyl collection in the military and they still regularly play them on the air.


The vinyl collection at Radio GITMO

Camp X-Ray – A familiar site

On our way back from Radio Gitmo, we drove past the infamous Camp X-Ray site. This camp was the very first one to hold detainees after 9-11 until Camp Delta was built. After the transfer to Camp Delta, the military wished to raze Camp X-Ray, but a US court ordered it preserved as evidence. We were not allowed to take picture of it, but there are pictures you can find online from those authorized to take them. Its current condition is one of (more…)

3rd GTMO Observer Gears up to Depart-James Zender


In what can only be described as a whirlwind couple of days, I was fortunate enough to have earned a nomination by the MCOP to represent it during the next round of hearings at the end of this month. After Professor Edwards notified me that I was the one selected, I tried my best to keep my emotions in check. The Pentagon still needed to confirm my spot.

Thankfully, I was not in limbo for long. The following morning I received the confirmation from them, along with the requisite documents to make it final. I was so excited to be (more…)