The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days

The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days

The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days

The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days


Named one of the Washington Post Book World's Best Books of 2009, The Least Worst Place offers a gripping narrative account of the first one hundred days of Guantanamo. Greenberg, one of America's leading experts on the Bush Administration's policies on terrorism, tells the story through a group of career officers who tried--and ultimately failed--to stymie the Pentagon's desire to implement harsh new policies in Guantanamo and bypass the Geneva Conventions. Peopled with genuine heroes and villains, this narrative of the earliest days of the post-9/11 era centers on the conflicts between Gitmo-based Marine officers intent on upholding the Geneva Accords and an intelligence unit set up under the Pentagon's aegis. The latter ultimately won out, replacing transparency with secrecy, military protocol with violations of basic operation procedures, and humane and legal detainee treatment with harsh interrogation methods and torture. Greenberg's riveting account puts a human face on this little-known story, revealing how America first lost its moral bearings in the wake of 9/11.


The beginning is thought to be more than half of the whole.

—Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I

The prisoner’s cry pierced through the hot Caribbean air. It was not the first time that such a shriek had roused the rest of the detainees from their daily lethargy. But this time it brought them to their feet and unleashed a flurry of noise, as they pounded the cement floors and rattled the wire mesh of their cells. An invisible force unsettled the stillness of the island. Despite slights against the prisoners’ religious practices, insults muttered by angry guards, and accusations from interrogators, prior to this moment, life at Guantanamo had appeared under control.

Until one prisoner saw his Koran kicked. Until his wail became a call to action.

Several evenings later, the prisoners still in revolt, another man, his hat in hand, walked through the camp as he had done many times before. This time, he paused before a row of cages that had direct sight lines into the cage of the one who shrieked. Bending forward, the general sat on the hardened, dry earth, his legs crossed and his head bare, and looked through the mesh and into the eyes of the prisoner before him, one of many who had elected to go on a hunger strike after the incident with the Koran. “Talk to me,” he said. “Please talk to me.”

With this, the commanding general of Camp X-Ray detention facility, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, began yet another chapter in a story that has yet to be told.

The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days describes a three-monthlong episode in which a group of military men and women received the vaguest of orders from the Pentagon and responded as they saw fit. Their names will be new to you and so will their experiences, but their story stands as a piece of history that tested ordinary people, individuals who were far from exceptional but who tried their best to rise to the occasion. Law-abiding, self-respecting Americans, they confronted their mission—tending to 300 captives from the . . .

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