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Times Reporter Booted From Gitmo


Only three papers were allowed by the Pentagon to report on the Guantanamo Bay prison suicides from the location itself: The LAT, the Miami Herald, and the Charlotte Observer. Caribbean bureau chief for the LA Times Carol Williams has visted the controversial camp a half dozen times, but will no doubt not forget the way her latest visit was cut short quickly.

According to her opinion column in Sunday's LAT, Defense Sect. Donald Rumsfeld's office gave Ms. Williams "an unceremonious expulsion to Miami on a military plane, safety-belted onto whatever seat is available. In this case, that seat was the toilet."

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Apparently they're a tad on edge at the Pentagon regarding the first three deaths at Gitmo. And more secretive. Perhaps twitchy that someone will spill the beans about this tragedy, similarily to how the reporter was greeted with frank honesty when she asked Naval Hospital commander Capt. John Edmundson if the 48-bed annex had ever been close to being full.

"Only during the mass-hanging incident," the Navy doctor replied, provoking audible gasps and horrified expressions among the public affairs minders and op-sec — operational security — watchdogs in the entourage, none of whom were particularly pleased with the disclosure that 23 prisoners had attempted simultaneously to hang themselves with torn bed sheets in late 2003.

Williams explains that she hadn't done anything that would warrant an expulsion, that "Rumsfeld's office said the decision was made 'to be fair and impartial' to the rest of the media, which the government had refused to let in."photo: Department of Defense