Charlie Savage, in the NYTImes:
GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — The prison library here is housed in a prefabricated building behind chain-link fencing and razor wire inside Camp Delta, an older, largely disused wing of the complex. Inside, the place has the feel of a branch library, with several rooms of books divided by language and genre — but its patrons may not browse the stacks. Instead, the chief librarian, a civilian who asks to be identified as “Milton” for security reasons, or an aide fills plastic bins with about 50 books and takes them to each cellblock once a week. If they obey prison rules, the 166 detainees may peer at the spines through the slots in their doors and check out two titles at a time, or make specific requests.
The library has about 18,000 books — roughly 9,000 titles — the bulk of which are in Arabic, along with a smaller selection of periodicals, DVDs and video games. Religious books are the most popular, Milton said, but there is also a well-thumbed collection of Western fare — from Arabic translations of books like “News of a Kidnapping,” by Gabriel García Márquez, and “The Kiss,” by Danielle Steel, to a sizable English-language room, which boasts familiar titles like the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” series, “Watership Down” and the “Odyssey.” Some detainees arrived knowing English, while a few others have learned over time. Most have now been held without trial for over a decade.
Milton has a small budget for new acquisitions, and detainees’ lawyers and family members can send books to specific inmates through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Those copies are first donated to the library and then passed along to the prisoners, who can keep them in their cells for up to 60 days, rather than the usual 30.
David Remes, a lawyer for Guantánamo detainees, told me one client requested romance novels, while others have asked for skiing, surfing and mountain-climbing magazines, “because they never see nature.” His client Shaker Aamer, a former resident of Britain, took a liking to George Orwell. “I sent him a copy of ‘1984,’ and he said he read it about three times and that it perfectly captured the psychological reality of being at Gitmo,” Remes said….
What’s on the agenda for the day?