Rob Simmons toured the much-criticized Guantanamo Bay prison Tuesday, and apparently found it quite nice, for a prison, and superior to Connecticut prisons in at least one respect.
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are treated well, the food is good and the medical care seems decent, Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, said Tuesday. He and nine other members of Congress took a half-day trip Monday to the Cuban military prison to see for themselves if harsh criticism leveled at the base was justified.
"Guantanamo had a lot of openness I have not seen in penitentiaries in my own state," Simmons said, recalling that he felt "claustrophobic" during a recent visit to Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers.
He also said the food was surprisingly good, including "the best institutional rice I've had." (AP)
I don't want to get into a huge discussion about Gitmo, but I have noticed that whenever anyone defends the place, they bring up the food. Apparently it's pretty good--or at least what they served the members of Congress was pretty good.
At this point everything Simmons does is political, so his decision to travel to Guantanamo Bay has to be viewed through a political lens. But does this help him? The people defending Guantanamo Bay (especially using food references) tend to be pretty conservative. Simmons might be trying to appeal to deep-pocketed conservative forces to help him with re-election next year. I don't know how much it will help him in his district, which mostly voted for John Kerry and is more concerned with Groton than with Gitmo.
Saying that the correctional facility in Somers is somehow worse than Guantanamo Bay, however, won't help. Somers is a reliable Republican town-- but neighboring Enfield is where most of the correctional officers who work at that prison actually live. Any kind of swing away from Simmons in Enfield, the most populous town in the district, could be a disaster.
Source: "Simmons Tours Guantanamo." Associated Press 13 July 2005.