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I. Invitation to Cuba

II. The Psychology of Terrorists

III. Drexel University

IV. November 8, 2006

V. The Psychology of Captivity

VI. The Psychology of Prisons

VII. The Psychology of War

VIII. Preparations

IX. 1934

X. November 13, 2006

XI. Takeoff

XII. In The Air

XIII. Arrival at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

XIV. Briefing at Headquarters of the Joint Task Force

XV. Lunch

XVI. Guard Duty

XVII. Camp Delta

XVIII. Medical Treatment

XIX. Behavioral Services

XX. Camp 5

XXI. Departure from Guantanamo Bay

The Legitimacy of GTMO: An Eyewitness Report, Page 21

A Travel Journal by Dr. Eric A. Zillmer
Pacifico Professor of Psychology at Drexel University

Departure from Guantanamo Bay

After a gunboat ride across the bay we enter the waiting jet for our flight home. We are all exhausted. The visit was informative and educational. As we fly back north to Andrews Air Force Base, we discuss among ourselves the meaning of todayís visit. I canít speak to the GTMO of past years, but on November 13, 2006 it was clear to me that Guantanamo Bay has evolved into a modern security facility. Camp X-Ray where much of the alleged violations are supposed to have occurred has been shut down. In fact, the detention facilities at GTMO are better organized and structured than their U.S. civilian counterparts. There are proportionately more staff, added redundancy, more defined procedures, instructions, and directives, increased supervision, and fewer inmates than at a similar correctional facility in the U.S.

It is important for Americans to know that the men and women who are stationed at GTMO bring a high level of professionalism to their mission, are extremely motivated, and represent the citizens of our country well. Each one of them was supremely professional, articulate, and confident about their mission. Furthermore, there is no question in my mind that the medical treatment and psychological needs of the detainees are looked after carefully and appropriately. Psychologists acting as Behavioral Science Consultants (BSCs) provide support to interrogators, but do not conduct interrogations or have access to confidential medical files. Clinicians are not crossing lines and providing medical information to support intelligence efforts. During my visit I came to fully believe that the detainees kept at GTMO are being treated humanely and ethically.

Perhaps we should embrace the discussion surrounding GTMO, since it has resulted in a challenging crossroad for a democracy like ours. Namely, what does a democracy that values freedom and the pursuit of happiness do with individuals it deems too dangerous to set free? What is the balance between an individualís rights and a nationís right to defend itself?

In my final analysis I believe that the divergence of public opinion on Guantanamo actually occurs considerably in advance of the entrances to Camp Delta. For those who believe that we live in the most dangerous of times and that Guantanamo is harboring hard-core terrorists from al Qaeda and the Taliban, the detention of those individuals is logical, as are the procedures that keep those enemies of our nation under lock and key. For those that are skeptical of the current threat assessment and of the legitimacy of those detained at GTMO, the influence of American power on those it keeps captive will appear to be inappropriate, excessive, and illegal.

As such, there is little middle ground on GTMO. It has become one of the polarizing issues surrounding the Global War on Terrorism. Guantanamo Bay is an enigma that reflects the greater global complexities that the U.S. now finds itself living in.

Dr. Zillmer is the Pacifico Professor of Psychology at Drexel University.