Of course, how to get out of the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is as great a mystery as the place itself. Escape is a long shot. The base is a prison, and a jewelry box. "You can't be too careful protecting this enormously valuable intelligence trove," says Army General Geoffrey Miller, commander of the joint task force that runs the detainee operation on the 45-sq.-mi. base. And so there are constant perimeter patrols by infantry squads in full battle gear, and visitors get turned inside out before they're allowed anywhere near the cellblocks. Getting out legally doesn't seem much easier. The detainees660 suspects from 44 countries, scooped up in the war on terrorismcannot challenge their arrests or plead their cases or even talk to a lawyer, because the U.S. government denies that they have those rights.
They are not U.S. citizens, and the base, while under total U.S. control, is not on American soil; since 1903, it has been leased from Cuba for 2,000 gold coins a year, now valued at $4,085, in perpetuity.
That leaves one last exit strategy when desperation takes hold. According to military officials, there have been 32 suicide attempts in 18 months, at least one of which left a man in a coma. (Cannon calls the attempts "manipulative behavior.") Former detainees say in most cases the prisoner made a noose out of clothes or sheets and tried to hang himself from the cell bars; one, they say, tried to slit his throat with a knife he had made from metal.
"Whenever we saw someone trying to kill themselves," says Ghazi Salahuddin, a detainee from Pakistan released in July, "we would all shout, attracting the attention of the guards." The new mental-health clinic on the base is usually close to full.