[REDACTED] brought me several Star Wars books … The guards wanted to be baptized with the names of [Star Wars] characters … “From now on we are the [REDACTED] and that’s what you call us. Your name is Pillow, [REDACTED] said. I eventually learned from the books that [REDACTED] are sort of Good Guys who fight against the Forces of Evil. So for the time being I was forced to represent the Forces of Evil, and the guards the Good Guys. “[REDACTED], that’s what you call me,” he said.
—Mohamedou Ould Slahi, author of Guantánamo Diary, who used the library to teach himself English in order to write a memoir for an American audience
Jordan Scott: While at Gitmo I was permitted to visit the Detainee Library. The Library houses a censored collection of books, magazines, and DVDs for detainees’ use, but the prisoners are not themselves allowed in the library. After the tour of the library was complete I asked the Public Affairs (PA) representative if I could have access to the entire catalogue of items housed in the Detainee Library. I recall him saying that no one had ever asked for this before. I remember that he left briefly to call his superior about my request and when he returned I was informed that I’d have my answer by the end of the day. Shortly after dinner, the PA representative said that they could not release the document and instead offered his cellphone where I could view the PDF file for “several minutes.” I refused and upon returning home enlisted the help of Stephen Voyce in filing a FOIA request with the United States Department of Defense.
Stephen Voyce: I received a message from Jordan Scott in the Spring of 2015. He was making last-minute preparations to visit the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center, having been credentialed to do so as a poet (rather than as a reporter). I had been researching the history of the Freedom of Information Act for a paper entitled “Reading the Redacted.” The essay’s purpose was twofold: to explain how this specific form of censorship came to be the preferred tool of military intelligence agencies, and then to document the prevalence of redaction in recent poetry and art, drawing on work by the likes of Philip Metres, Noor Behram, Trevor Paglen, and Mariam Ghani.