EDITORIAL: Playtime at Gitmo

‘Life skills,’ typing and art appreciation for terrorists

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Having “three hots and a cot,” as the military calls meals and a bunk, and a warm Caribbean breeze apparently isn’t enough for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration wants to enrich the experience of these terrorists and al Qaeda operatives by teaching them horticulture, Arabic calligraphy and how to use Photoshop. On the taxpayer dime, of course.

The maximum-security prison proposes to offer these classes, and much more, “consistent with the Geneva Conventions,” according to a “performance work statement” just released by the Defense Department. “The [Joint Detention Group] Detainee Program provides intellectual stimulation to the detainees during their time in the custody of the United States,” the department says.

The 166 men now held in custody will learn all about “literacy, nutrition, horticulture, science and art programs, as well as life skills programs.” We’ll concede they all need considerable work in “life skills,” and finding productive work after a career in terrorism is a bother after a tour at Gitmo. Last year, the director of national intelligence said 28 percent of the detainees, once released, went back to their old car-bombing ways. “Based on trends identified over the past 10 years,” the director said, “we assess that if additional detainees are transferred without conditions from [Guantanamo], some will re-engage in terrorist or insurgent activities.” No doubt.

The mullahs in Tehran would also no doubt be happy to hire a few former terrorists with Photoshop skills. Critics of Islamic graphics laughed in February when a photograph of an Iranian “stealth bomber” turned out to be something else in a bad photo-editing job. Other Renoir wannabes among the onetime bomb-makers may find themselves drawn to an “art seminar” to include “water-color painting, charcoal sketching, Arabic calligraphy, acrylic painting and pastel painting.” Gardening programs will include “principles of Horticulture 1 & 2, basic landscape plants and landscape pruning practices.”

Perhaps the most ambitious seminar will be one of the “life skills” sessions, where instructors will train detainees on “computer familiarization and typing, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Publisher at a basic/intermediate/advanced level.” Inspire, the al Qaeda magazine, might be hiring.

Instructors from the outside will enjoy all the comforts of home — and military guards. No ladies need apply. “Due to cultural and religious considerations, seminars shall be given by a male instructor,” the Defense Department says. Applicants who speak Arabic or Pashtu have until Friday to apply.

If education is the true goal here, where are the classes on American history, with an emphasis on the “melting pot,” where generations of immigrants from various cultures and religions learned to get along? How about one on world religions, with the emphasis on tolerance and respect? Or the class about democracy, something scarce under the Taliban and assorted radical Islamic regimes in the detainee’s homelands?

Better still, why not teach them not to do the things terrorists and enemy combatants do, and to spread that message among their peers? That might be more useful than learning how to prune a jicama plant.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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