The Show Must Go On

From the Xcel Energy Center to the riot zone, we're covering the RNC

Guantánamo Bay has come to St. Paul. Folks can now bask in the Caribbean sunshine that is our off-site maximum-security holding base for terrorists and unlucky Pakistani sheepherders.

Amnesty International brought its life-size model of a maximum-security Gitmo cell to 270 West Seventh St. "Jen," an associate with the exhibition who didn't want her real name used because—um, maybe the fear of being sent to Guantánamo without any evidence—says, "The tour is a way to enable people in the United States to get a glimpse of the harsh realities of illegal detention and prolonged isolation."

Jen notes that the holding chamber—essentially a steel cube—was designed and created through interviews and input from former detainees. So folks can get a real feeling of the place where prisoners dry off after pleasant rounds of water-boarding—er, enhanced interrogation techniques.

"I think it provides a salient and tangible thing for people who wouldn't necessarily see the cell," adds Jen.

We checked out the cell Tuesday and found it to be surprisingly roomy. After reading reports of terror and abuse inside the teeny, tiny confines, we expected a room just big enough to fit a twin bed. But the actual holding cell, while sparse, is comfy.

Standing inside the terror chamber with a volunteer wasn't claustrophobic, and there was enough space to fit at least two more people with ease. And the ceilings are high enough to do jumping jacks. There are dorm rooms smaller than these cells—although the cell lacks built-in shelving, Ethernet, and a drunken roommate who wakes you up at 3 a.m. by humping a Tri-Delt.

Another volunteer a few blocks away agreed that the cell isn't all that bad. "But that's not the point," she added. "It's the fact that we are holding people indefinitely without any proof."

Check it out yourself. If you can't find it, look for the guys wearing bright orange jumpsuits. —Bradley Campbell

Never Forget (Except This Week)

Apparently there is nothing that makes Republican strategists more nervous than the possibility of being photographed in front of a Nazi flag—even if it is a historic memento and reminder of American servicemen fighting on the right side of one of the more justified wars in American history.

Throughout the past week, Republican Party planners made numerous requests to TRACES Center for History and Culture in St. Paul that it remove a Nazi banner on display at the front of its museum in the Landmark Center, says the museum's executive director, Michael Luick-Thrams.

The flag in question, taken by an American soldier from a German city hall, is part of an exhibit on the Nazi book burning of 1933. Luick-Thrams says the request is particularly galling considering that McCain was a POW.

"We think that the legacy of Nazism's defeat by America and its allies in the Second World War remains an inspiring and relevant one," says Luick-Thrams. "Why, then, are we being asked to alter our exhibit during the convention?" —Beth Walton

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