Reading website reviews is almost as much fun as trying to fold a fitted sheet by yourself. But how else can you discover, for example, a site devoted to old magazine covers that feature illustrations of women battling octopuses (www.cyrune.com/pulp.html)-eight tentacles up from this reviewer!
Let's face it: When you're struggling every day to, in the words of our president, put food on your family, who has time to sort through the billions of sites on the World Wide Web vying for your attention? You need website reviews, whether you like them or not. So quit moaning and read on-it's good for you!
Today in Kolodenko's Net Notes™: a fun-packed perusal of the exciting and exotic world of detention and interrogation, American-style, through that portal to adventure, the website of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil/index.htm).
Homepage: Easy to navigate and uncluttered by annoying flash animation or pop-ups, the “GTF Gitmo” website greets you with a snazzy, eye-catching title graphic with the unmistakable gleam of chrome, like it came right off the back of a Chevy Avalanche. The black background, handy menu, official seal and bold, all-caps motto (HONOR BOUND TO DEFEND FREEDOM), empower Gitmo's slick homepage with a forceful first impression that seems to say, “I won't torture you to death.”
News: The menu offers four main choices: News, The Wire, Detainee Affairs (a link to the DoD website) and Detainee Intel, along with a page of additional links, webmail access and a photo gallery. Let's start with the news. The news section features 15 Quicktime audio clips of 30-second Gitmo radio hits like the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Guantanamo Bay Miniature Golf Course and the results of the Hummer-pulling contest (the winning team was awarded with new three-piece warm-up suits!). Awesome! You probably expected some gloomy news stories about interrogation techniques, hunger strikes and suicide attempts, but the cheerful narration and trivial subject matter ensure smooth listenin'.
My favorite is the audio clip from January 2006, wherein Gitmo celebrates Martin Luther King Day by affirming the value of “diversity.” After all, wasn't it Martin Luther King who said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by how well they administer demoralizing interrogation techniques”?
The Wire: If you want some harder-hitting news, you're gonna have to click on the link to the PDF file of the latest issue of The Wire, Gitmo's glossy, full-color magazine, chock full of the sort of biased reporting that makes Fox News look like PBS. In this issue's main story, “Troopers Performed Magnificently” by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Lacy D. Hicks, JTF commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr. praises the efforts of the American Guard Force in quelling a recent failed mass suicide and rebellion attempt by some of the detainees. “This illustrates to me the true nature of the men we have detained here,” intones Harris. “They are dangerous men and committed jihadists willing to die and order others to commit suicide.”
I know you're probably wondering whether years of detainment without being charged with crimes, repeated interrogations, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and the like, might have as much to do with the “noncompliance” of the detainees as their “true nature” does. But Hicks' story doesn't contextualize the incident, and that's a big word; it sounds like work. Commander Harris' explanation is simple. The detainees are all evil. Now you know as much as a commander!
Reading about suicide and violence bums me out. Good thing the rest of The Wire is such a blast!
The picturesque, full-color spread of Gitmo's unspoiled coastline of rolling hills, rocky cliffs and glimmering beaches really brings to life its slogan, “Miles away from ordinary”-must be nice after a hard day of telling prisoners that their mothers and sisters are whores to unwind on secluded Girl Scout Beach.
In the religion section, Army Chaplain Joseph Evans compares his success in spreading the gospel of Jesus throughout the JTF to the process of nuclear fission. He intends to keep splitting those “spiritual atoms,” so maybe someday he'll have enough fission power to build a spiritual dirty bomb. Metaphors rock!
Army Lt. Col. Lara Tucker's lovely photo of a honeybee hovering near a cactus flower certainly deserves to have won this issue's photo-of-the-week contest. Photos of detainees shackled to the floor in their own excrement, pulling their hair out of their heads just doesn't split the spiritual atoms.
And don't miss lunch at the Seaside Galley on Thursday: Turkey à la King. Mmmm. The Wire is truly miles away from ordinary!
Photo Gallery: The gallery shows soldiers standing around and officers shaking hands. Boring. The best one is of a painting of a big smiling snowman. Merry Christmas, Gitmo!
Detainee Intel: The best part of the whole website! It has “UNCLASSIFIED” documents from last year. In it, we learn about how bad the detainees are. Quotations from prisoners like “It's okay to kill Jews” prove that all detainees are terrorists and deserve whatever “humane” treatment they get. Then there is the section of “contrasting detainee comments,” like “Americans are very kind people” and “the food is good.” I guess that last comment wasn't from one of the 75 prisoners currently on hunger strike. No worries-soon enough they'll have some good old American kindness in the form of liquefied apple pie pumped into their stomachs through enforced feeding tubes shoved through their bodies without anesthesia.
All in all, I'd have to give this website two thumbs up-and you should, too! What's that? You're not so sure? Well, maybe you'd like me to have my friend over here cut your thumbs off. Don't believe he'd do it? Good. That's just the kind of disbelief this website ought to induce. When you think Gitmo, don't think illegal detainment and torture, think Martin Luther King, Turkey à la King, Jesus, snowmen, secluded beaches and happy campers.
Now get those thumbs up, America! E-mail dakolodenko[at]gmail[dot]com and editor[at]SDcitybeat[dot]com