Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reading is fundamentalist: Gitmo needs a librarian 

Are you a librarian? Gitmo needs you:

Librarians, take note.

The Defense Department needs you to work in "one of today's most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments," according to a recent advertisement for chief librarian at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

The position, which will oversee three staff members, is part of an expansion of the facility.

Base spokesman Robert Durand says he also hopes to increase the number of books from 4,500 to 20,000 and launch Pashtu and Arabic reading programs in October.

But exactly what books will be allowed is unclear.

Durand said in an e-mail response to questions that although "all books are screened for content," the selection includes "art, music, sports, Arabic history, religion, humor, novels and poetry."

Yet there is a conspicuous absence among the titles: Arabic-English dictionaries.

Durand's explanation? "Arabic-English dictionaries are not provided to detainees," he wrote. "The detainees in our custody remain at war. They collect intelligence and threaten our guard force daily. Improving their English language skills creates an additional skill they can use against our guard force."

A worthy and challenging job, to be sure. The recruiters will have to be careful, though. The insertion of this librarian into Gitmo would no doubt constitute yet another "human rights violation," and we can't have that.


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