Guantanamo’s Starving Students

  • Share
  • Read Later
Navy photo / MC 3rd Class Joshua Nistas

Detainees attend a life-skills class at Guantanamo.

Things have gotten so bad for the alleged terrorists camped out at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that, at last count, 93 of the 166 detainees still there are on hunger strikes to draw attention to their plight.

Something else came to Battleland’s attention the other day: U.S. taxpayers have paid close to $10 million for private security and what the Pentagon calls “detainee educational services” at Gitmo.

Detainee educational services?

You bet. The Pentagon says that includes “library operations, literary, art, as well as other courses such as life skills.”

Life skills?

The military’s logic here would make Army Air Forces Captain John Yossarian of Catch-22 fame proud.

Despite the fact that many of these detainees have been held for years without a trial or any notion of when, or if, they will ever be freed, the military’s Gitmo contracting office says – apparently with a straight face – that “the Geneva conventions require that detainees are provided with adequate mental stimulation to maintaining them in a good state of mental health.”

(Apparently, some remedial English classes for those drafting these contract documents also might be a smart investment.)

The November 2012 document is a so-called “Justification and Approval (J&A) FOR OTHER THAN FULL AND OPEN COMPETITION.” Gitmo authorities wanted to award a six-month extension to the current contract on a sole-source basis because competing the extension would take too long, cost too much — and lead to detainees without educational services.

“A break in service for this contract will result in non-compliance with the Geneva conventions,” the J&A warned, “and may result in an adverse finding by the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

Not only that. Security at Gitmo apparently could be imperiled by a break in the contract. “If the current contract is not extended causing a break. in service, then the JTF-GTMO [Joint Task Force Guantanamo] will lose its OPSEC [Operational Security] manager and his backup,” the J&A said. “In other words, the JTF-GTMO will not have an OPSEC program for 120+ days until the new contract is awarded.”

The Army competed and then awarded the current contract on Mar. 15, 2009, and plans to do the same after the six-month extension ends Sept. 15, 2013. It has paid Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions $9,414,234.16 over the 54 months of the contract.

The Army said needed the extension because the Gitmo deputy commander decided last fall to break the contract into separate security and education-services contracts, which increased the lead time needed to prepare for the two competitions.