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Librarians, take note. The Defense Department needs you to work in “one of today’s most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments,” according to a recent advertisement for chief librarian at the Guant�namo Bay prison in Cuba. The position, which will oversee three staff members, is part of an expansion of the facility. Base spokesman Robert Durand says he also hopes to increase the number of books from 4,500 to 20,000 and launch Pashtu and Arabic reading programs in October. But exactly what books will be allowed is unclear. Durand said in an e-mail response to questions that although “all books are screened for content,” the selection includes “art, music, sports, Arabic history, religion, humor, novels and poetry.” Yet there is a conspicuous absence among the titles: Arabic-English dictionaries. Durand’s explanation? “Arabic-English dictionaries are not provided to detainees,” he wrote. “The detainees in our custody remain at war. They collect intelligence and threaten our guard force daily. Improving their English language skills creates an additional skill they can use against our guard force.” Lawyers for several detainees say there’s also a ban on other books, such as Hansel and Gretel, Seabiscuit, Macbeth, and Joe Margulies’ Guant�namo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. The library opened in April 2003, but was shut down five months later after officials discovered “detainees were using the books to improperly transmit messages to one another,” Durand wrote.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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