America’s Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

Re “Appetite for Authoritarianism Spawns an American Gulag,” Commentary, May 2: Jonathan Turley says that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay was designed to hold alleged war criminals from Afghanistan. That is incorrect. The purpose is to detain dangerous enemy combatants captured while fighting against our forces and remove them from the battlefield.

Turley implies that we are being “shadowy” about juvenile detainees. We have been very forthcoming about the fact that we simply do not know the exact ages of all the detainees, but we believe a small number of them may be juveniles. We are providing them with special medical and psychological care in an environment that is segregated from the rest of the detainee population. It is important to remember that these are still very dangerous people.

Turley makes the disturbing comparison of Camp Delta to a “gulag.” That is an affront to the millions of innocent people who were starved, raped, tortured, executed or worked to death in Soviet-era gulags because of their political beliefs. Camp Delta is a place where we hold enemy combatants in a humane, safe environment. The detainees are well fed, free to practice their religion and receive some of the best medical care in the world.

Victoria Clarke


Assistant Secretary of

Defense for Public Affairs




Re “Lack of Detainee Hearings Under Fire,” May 14: When I hear that Falen Gherebi has been held prisoner by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay for over a year without a lawyer and without a hearing, it really frightens me for the sanctity of our basic rights. And as if that were not bad enough, there are 600 other people there, some boys barely teenaged.

The ruling judge does not appear happy about it either. He said he had to deny the petition seeking relief because the Guantanamo base is operated under a lease from Cuba but had reached this conclusion “reluctantly.” He called the delay “inconsistent with basic values of the American legal system.” I agree. In plain English, it’s un-American.

Bill Strahan