World

Goodbye, Guantánamo

A photo gallery from the US military base in Cuba

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The Camp America area seen from a vehicle of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, an area in which the Cubans can’t see from the hills. The U.S. Government is currently holding approximately 340 “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were captured during the “Global War on Terrorism” after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. This photo was reviewed by a U.S. Military official before transmission.

The fate of the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay — the most politically, legally, and morally charged real estate in the world since January 11, 2002, when the first al Qaeda and Taliban combatants were taken there — is sealed. In the days after he stood before the US Capitol and said he would not sacrifice the rights of men for the sake of expedience, Barack Obama suspended the military trials of Toronto native Omar Khadr and twenty other men accused of terrorism, and issued an order to close the facility within a year. It will take the new American president some time to work out a viable alternative, and even then the consequences of his predecessor’s infamous military experiment will be with us for years to come. How Guantánamo is remembered will depend in part on what we learn about what went on inside its walls — but until now such information has been scarce.

In November 2007, Canadian photographer Louie Palu joined several journalists on a tightly scheduled, highly mediated US Department of Defense tour. He saw enough to justify a second trip, and after a year of lobbying he and a wire service photographer were granted extended access to places of interest, including some that had never before been photographed. He was even allowed to approach detainees, if only to ask permission to take their pictures. He did not see everything he wanted (DoD officials refused to respond to his queries about the rumoured Camp Seven, where “high-value” prisoners like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are supposedly held), and was unable to keep every photograph he took, but his images and observations — reproduced in part on the following pages — are critical to our understanding of a place that will haunt us long after it’s gone.

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One of several pods containing detainees cells in Camp 6 at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Camp 6 is a maximum-security facility similar to Camp 5, although it offers a more communal area for detainees. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility.(Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)
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A member of the U.S. military is seen reflected in the window at the entrance to Camp 6, the newest camp used as a maximum security facility to hold detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The U.S. Government is currently holding approximately 340 “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were captured during the “Global War on Terrorism” after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. This photo was reviewed by a U.S. Military official before transmission.
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A detainee seen through a maze of fence and wire in Camp 4 at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Camp 4 is a communal style camp where more compliant detainees live in small groups and have access to a more open air environment. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility.(Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)
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Detainees praying in Camp 4 at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Camp 4 is a communal style camp where more compliant detainees live in small groups and have access to a more open air environment. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility.(Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)
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A arrow on the ground pointing in the direction of Mecca for Muslim prayer is seen in the recreation area of Camp 6 of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Camp 6 is the newest detention facility and is similar to Camp 5. The U.S. Government is currently holding approximately 340 “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were captured during the “Global War on Terrorism” after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. This photo was reviewed by a U.S. Military official before transmission.
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A prayer cone in a hallway for Muslim prisoners who require knowing the times for worship in Camp 1 at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Camp 1 in Gunatanamo Bay Cuba.
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A detainee looks out of a cell past the reflection of a US military official seen on a security window in Camp 5, which is a maximum-security detention facility where the most uncooperative as well as detainees with the most intelligence value are housed at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility. (Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)
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A camp guard carries soft leg restraints outside Camp Delta at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility.(Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)
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A chair and leg restraint connected to the floor for a detainee inside an “interview room” in Camp 5 ,which is a maximum-security detention facility where the most uncooperative as well as detainees with the most intelligence value are housed at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Approximately 250 “unlawful enemy combatants” captured since the September 11, attacks on the United States continue to be held at the detention facility.(Image reviewed by military official prior to transmission)

Louie Palu has won many awards, and is a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow with the New America Foundation.

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