Books banned for Gitmo prisoners

The Guardian published a list of books that Guantánamo Bay prisoners aren’t allowed to read, according to Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve. Reprieve provides legal counsel and other aid to 15 prisoners in that unconscionable facility.

And this list makes no sense whatsoever.

Picture 1

h/t: Grania


  1. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    They forgot the books “War and Peace” and Julia Child’s cookbook.

  2. Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting list. The most interesting being Cinderella. Why?

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I suppose in case they start turning pumpkins into getaway cars. I mean, that would just be plain embarrassing to the guards, right?

      Same thing with Jack and the Beanstalk – who knows the trouble they could get up to once they have managed to get the Giants on their side.

  3. Kevin
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Why? What about…

    Anarchist Cookbook: How to HME your frieds, family, neighbors, and, yes, enemies. I bet that’s still on the shelf. Good grief.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Ha ha the Aussie dictionary and Puss n’ Boots are my favourites. Maybe I should try to send the prisoners a copy of Peter Pan and see if that gets on the list.

    Maybe not, I want to be able to visit the US in the future. 🙂

    • Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Are you sure?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Sure I want to visit the US? Yes. I have family in California & I want to go to Hawaii again. Also, I usually have to transfer planes there when I go to NZ.

  5. Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Well, what list would make sense?

  6. spinkham
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    What books were allowed if any? Hard to build a theory without that info also.

  7. Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    There is a little more information here:

    Apparently they allowed 1984, Animal Farm and Kafka’s The Trial, but blocked a Bible and a commentary on the Qur’an. One commenter suggests that it’s not a coherent policy, just random malice.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, interesting read.

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    So, what do we need to do to get WEIT onto that august list?

  9. Stephen Barnard
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


  10. moarscienceplz
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Well I can sure see why the Gulag Archipelago would be on the list – makes it difficult to keep insisting the USA is so much better than those godless communists.

  11. Posted December 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The one document that’s clearly been banned that they most need is the Constitution of the United States of America. All the others are an irrelevant sideshow, useful for dark comedy only.

    A copy of the Federalist Papers wouldn’t hurt, either.

    Considering that neither is to be found anywhere in Washington, perhaps it’s not so surprising that they’re not in Gitmo, either.


    • Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed, prisoners shouldn’t know their rights, should they? {comment meant ironically}

  12. rodgerma
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Gitmo itself makes no sense, to me.

  13. Wowbagger
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    They banned the New Dinkum Aussie Dictionary? That’s a bloody outrage, that is!

    • marcusa1971
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      No doubt, the work of “flamiin’ mongrels.”

    • Marella
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Well bugger me.

  14. Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Of course, Uncle Tom. Because the undeground railroad was an terrorist organization?

  15. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    I believe that during the Apartheid era in South Africa the list of banned books included Black Beauty – the children’s story about a horse by Anna Sewell.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink

      Which is an apt reflection of the intelligence shown by most attempts at censorship?

  16. Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    One can understand why the jokers in charge of Gitmo wouldn’t want their prisnors to know about The Rule of Law or Gulag Archipelago, but the rationale for most of the other books is pretty opaque.

  17. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    The list makes perfect sense. It’s a list of the books that the inmates wanted to read.

    But what’s the point? They’re accused of conspiring to commit terrorism. They’re in jail. They can’t do anything. What can they possibly read in a book that’s going to make any difference?

    • Posted December 15, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

      Obedience is not enough. Unless a man is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.

      If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

      And if you wish to truly understand American policy with respect to Guantanamo Bay, you will seek out the original source of the preceding words and read them in their entirety in their original context.


  18. Filippo
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    From whom do the censors get their marching orders? The commander of the prison, or someone higher in the chain of command and if so, how high? And on what rational basis?

    I see that Thomas Paine is (so far) not forbidden. Karl Marx? Chomsky? Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Krauss, Ingersoll, Jacoby, other worthies?

    Are prisoners allowed to read the N.Y. Times, other newspapers? An algebra text?

    • Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I imagine the list is reactive, not proactive, so perhaps nobody has asked for these yet.

  19. robin
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Yet the book, “Escape: Tips and techniques for escaping from prison” was not banned. Go figure.

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