Its a prison, maam, said Borrero. I make the assumption they dont want to be here.
The cellblocks youngest is confessed teen terrorist Omar Khadr, 24, and hes on the fast-track to freedom.
He pleaded guilty to war crimes last year in exchange for a promise to repatriate him before his 26th birthday. A military jury sentenced him to 40 more years in prison for hurling a grenade that killed an American commando in a July 2002 gun battle in war-time Afghanistan. But once back in Canada, Khadrs parole is all-but certain because he was captured as a juvenile, 15 at the time of the crime.
At his sentencing hearing, a government paid psychiatrist said Khadr spent his years here marinating in a radical Islamic community memorizing verses of the Quran in the company of captives who got to eat, pray, watch satellite TV and shoot hoops in groups as a reward for good behavior.
Now Khadrs cut off from that group, as a war criminal segregated in circumstances his Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, calls horrific and stupid and dont make any sense.
Khadrs father, a since slain al Qaeda insider, moved the family from Toronto to Afghanistan when the boy was in elementary school. So to prepare him for life back in Canada, Khadrs Pentagon defense team is shuttling twice a month to the remote base for attorney-client visits in a compound, Camp Echo.
There, for four days out of five military lawyers and paralegals are drilling Khadr on a home-school styled curriculum designed by a Canadian college professor history, astronomy, math, grammar, elocution.
English is the emphasis, said Jackson, to help him achieve mature student status in Canada, a gateway to college admission.
Not so long ago, the al Qaeda convict played Romeo to the Army officers Juliet.
Hes very serious about his education, said Jackson. His attitude is positive. Theres been a real change in him now that he has the legal matters behind him.
Also on the cellblock are Guantánamos lone lifer, al Qaeda filmmaker Ali Hamza al Bahlul and former weapons instructor, Noor Uthman Mohammed. Bahlul keeps to himself, according to military sources, and Noor is just settling in. On Feb. 2, he traded 34 months imprisonment on the cellblock for testimony at future trials about terrorists he knew in Afghanistan.
Theirs is a prison within the sprawling prison system, cut off from the other captives regardless of how good their behavior.
Elsewhere on the base, the military has built a secret lockup for men interrogated by the CIA and suspected in some of the most heinous attacks against America the Sept. 11th terror attack, the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen, beheading Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl. There are five Uighurs, ethnic Muslims fearing religious persecution in their native China, likewise segregated from the other captives because a federal judge found them unjustly imprisoned.
But Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are serving punitive sentences, says Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokeswoman.
Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are detained under the Law of War only as a security measure and should not be subjected to a penal environment or comingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction.
Once their sentences are over, under Pentagon doctrine, they become ordinary detainees again put back with the others in a penitentiary away called Camp 6, the closest thing at Guantánamo today to POW-style barracks housing.
Or they may leave Guantánamo if the Obama administration chooses to negotiate their release, and congressional restrictions dont hamstring future releases, for example to Sudan, a State Sponsor of Terror nation.
That test could come next year. The Sudanese man reading the Bush memoirs finishes his sentence on July 7, 2012.