What's going on at Gitmo?

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JOE SKIPPER / REUTERS

IN THE BEDROOM: Each cell has a toilet and an arrow to Mecca

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Have any died there? Although the U.S. military has recently acknowledged that more than 30 detainees died in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan from August 2002 to November 2004, there have been no reports or allegations of detainee deaths at Guantanamo. According to the Pentagon, prisoners there have attempted suicide 34 times and have committed several hundred acts classified by the military as "self-injurious manipulative behavior," but none have died as a result. A Saudi man who tried to hang himself in 2003 ended up in a coma for several months but ultimately regained consciousness and learned to walk again.

Has the Koran been desecrated? The U.S. has been investigating allegations of mishandling of the Koran, including the charge by at least one detainee that U.S. personnel threw the holy book in a toilet. As of last week, the inquiry, led by Brigadier General Jay W. Hood, had found five instances in which a guard or interrogator mishandled the Koran—although Hood would not explain exactly how—all but one before January 2003, when explicit rules about the Koran were established. But Hood's team found no credible evidence that one was ever tossed in a toilet. Three incidents were probably deliberate and two inadvertent, Hood said late last week. He added that his team had reinterviewed a detainee who had previously told FBI agents he had witnessed a Koran toilet episode but now has denied firsthand knowledge of any Koran desecration.

What are living conditions there like? The best-behaved detainees are held in Camp 4, a medium-security, communal-living environment with as many as 10 beds in a room; prisoners can play soccer or volleyball outside up to nine hours a day, eat meals together and read Agatha Christie mysteries in Arabic. Less cooperative detainees typically live and eat in small, individual cells and get to exercise and shower only twice a week. A new, $16 million maximum-security facility can hold up to 100 of the most dangerous detainees.

What kind of intelligence have detainees provided? The military's official position is that some inmates continue to provide valuable information, ranging from how al-Qaeda raises funds and recruits members to how it plans attacks and builds explosives. Detainees, officials say, have helped identify new prisoners, from Osama bin Laden's bodyguards to rank-and-file militia fighters; late last year, according to officials, a few detainees helped uncover a previously unknown al-Qaeda cell in another country. Still, earlier this year the civilian head of intelligence at Guantanamo admitted in newspaper interviews that the majority of detainees were no longer of much intelligence value and were not even being regularly interrogated.

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