Guantanamo Debate-Listening Party

Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A soldier next to a placard on the fence line of the "Camp Five" detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The president pledged to close this prison.

Tonight, reporters there were following a presidential debate.

Reporters camping out at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to cover court hearings for the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were determined not to miss the second of three televised presidential debates.

So defense officials made arrangements for the press to watch the debate live from the media filing center near the courthouse.

Pizza was ordered from the local Pizza Hut and reporters gathered around two large televisions, ready to settle in for a night of presidential politics.

Yet modern amenities like satellite television aren’t always as dependable at Guantanamo as they usually are in the U.S.

About a minute before the debate was to begin, the televisions mysteriously lost their signal.

Defense public affairs officers were at a loss to explain the untimely outage. Reporters wondered, mostly in jest, whether it was a conspiracy by the Castro regime.

When a reporter wondered whether anyone had a radio, a few quick-thinking defense officials sprang into action. They drove a van into the empty aircraft hangar that serves as a media and legal center and pumped up the volume on the radio as the van burned gas.

Reporters gathered around the van in the warm, humid night air in Cuba to listen to the debate.

It wasn’t clear what caused the satellite interference, which blocked TV signals in parts — but not all– of the Naval base. In any case, the television signal resumed about 40 minutes later and the debate-watching party could proceed as planned, albeit delayed.


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