GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Dozens of brand-new personal DVD players for the prisoners are stashed in a closet, a perk the military has now put on hold. The $744,000 soccer field is empty. The halal kitchen still cooks three meals a day for each prisoner, but guards throw most of the food away.
With nearly every one of the 166 Guantánamo prisoners now under lockdown back in solitary existence after years of communal living the military has reverted to a battle rhythm reminiscent of the Bush administration.
Pre-cleared captives awaiting political change are confined for long stretches to 8-by-12 cells, each man praying behind his own steel door, deciding for himself whether to eat a solitary meal.
Meantime, troops are back to managing the most intimate aspects of a detainees daily life when he will be shackled and taken to a shower, when hell be shackled and taken to a recreation yard, when hell get to hear the call to prayer through a slot in the door rather than muffled through the prisons walls.
And, for 100 hunger strikers, the military decides when to shackle each man into a restraint chair for tube feedings an austere, exacting control of the lives of these men that the prisons Muslim advisor warns will not stop the next suicide.
They are not done yet, and they will not be done until there is more than one death, warns the Pentagon-paid advisor, who goes by Zak.
Zak has worked at the prison since 2005 and blames a dozen hard-core prisoners for manipulating the others to join the hunger strike that has engulfed most of the prison and is still growing.
The military acknowledges that two prisoners have attempted suicide since the strike began. Zak predicts the hard-liners will incite a vulnerable captive to die. The prisoners have perfected their methods of committing suicide, he says. Its not going to be obvious.
Defense lawyer Carlos Warner disagrees. He argues that the hunger strikers are slowly trying to commit suicide in plain view.
Suicide will happen because the men are hopeless, he says, not because of influence by other detainees.
Theyve lost hope, he said, because President Obama has no intention to close Guantánamo.
For now, the camps careen from one crisis to another. Reporters got a glimpse of this at dawn recently when the words code yellow suddenly crackled through a guards radio inside Guantánamos maximum-security lockup.
An officer ordered the reporters to evacuate. Somewhere inside the 124-cell prison a captive didnt wake up or wasnt showing enough movement inside his cell, said the commander, an Army captain who would not provide even the first letter of her first name.
So Alpha Block declared a medical emergency something the Army captain said has occurred very frequently since she took charge in October. In September, a Yemeni prisoner was found dead in his cell of a drug overdose. The military called it a suicide.
This time, troops shackled that mornings medical emergency to a board and whisked him to the camp clinic. A Navy nurse diagnosed him as feeling dizzy or faint, and had him returned to his cell all inside 20 minutes, according to an account provided by the prisons Army public affairs team.