Question: What do journalists see of Guantanamo Bay?
Mahvish Khan: The Department of Defense purports to allow journalists into Guantanamo Bay and they do let journalists on to the base but they give them this Mickey Mouse tour of the detention facility. They show them a model cell and give them their military propaganda. They’re never allowed to sit down with a prisoner. They... They’re... They don’t get both perspectives and they never see the whole picture and journalists do not have access to the most fundamental part of the detention center which are the prisoners and their stories and voices have been silenced, and Americans don’t know the individuals at Guantanamo as individuals. They are known in the media as the Guantanamo detainees. It’s one mass entity of nameless, faceless foreigners and they are serial numbered. The Guantanamo detainees are stripped of their names. When you give something a name, whether it’s an animal or a human being, it makes it unique and individual, but serial numbers are for inanimate things that are created in a series and that’s what happened to the Guantanamo detainees. They were stripped of their names, their individuality. They had their hair shaved, their eyebrows, their beards, and in Bagram in preparation to come to Guantanamo and were all dressed alike and they were serial numbered. So the guards only know them as numbers and it’s easier to abuse something called 1009 or 1154 than it is when you know that this guy is a pediatrician or an old man or a teacher and he’s got a wife who is a lot like your wife and they’re really more like us than they are different. And Americans have this disconnect between who these men are because of- because they’re hidden.
Recorded on: 7/17/08