The Freedom of Information Act, conceived by Navy veteran and California Rep. John E. Moss more than 50 years ago, is the world’s best vehicle for absurd bureaucratic trivia. A tool of transparency, the FOIA request can surface government documents on everything from the fascinating to the banal — from evidence of government malfeasance to Barack Obama’s secret beer recipe. And in the case of Guantanamo Bay, sometimes those documents are fascinating and banal.
On Aug. 14, the government document clearing house Government Attic posted an unusual 636-page file: a complete catalog of every book, movie and periodical available to Guantanamo Bay detainees as of 2017, compiled by U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Guantanamo and released in response to a July 25, 2015 FOIA request by an unnamed individual. The catalog — surfaced on Aug. 17 by The War Zone — is as massive as it is batshit fascinating, loaded with books in every language from English to Swahili. It is, in War Zone writer Joseph Trevithick’s description, “one part foreign archive, one part second-hand book store, and one part middle school library.”
On one hand: How nice that Gitmo detainees have books and movies to help pass the time! On the other: Some of the inclusions feel somewhat bizarre, and the inclusion of incomplete series — why so littleLaw and Order?!?!?! — feels like torture. At The War Zone, Trevithick keenly highlights the ironic inclusion of Harry Potter and the Prisoner ofAzkaban, the plot of which revolves against a wizard wrongfully imprisoned in a legendary prison:
Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen who was a legal resident of the United Kingdom at the time of his capture in Afghanistan in 2001, had this to say in an interview with the BBC after his release in 2015: “The closest thing for my mind is [a] Harry Potter story. They got an island in Harry Potter, it says ‘Azkaban,’ where there’s no happiness and they just suck all your feelings out of you, and you don’t have no feelings any more. And truly that’s how I felt all the time. Because that’s what they tried, you know. They want to make you feelingless [sic]. They want to deprive you from everything, anything.”
To wit, we’ve curated some eye-catching selections. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn!
Maybe a movie about nuclear terrorism in the U.S. isn't the best choice:
Time for a history lesson, y'all:
Let's be real: Nobody loves Raymond:
Maybe it's not the best idea to give a bunch of pissed-off detainees overviews of major landmarks:
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.