If Rosenberg ever feels uncomfortable in the tents, she may have herself to blame. The tent city owes its existence, in part, to a story that Rosenberg broke in November 2006. Thanks to a tip from an officer, she discovered on an obscure government-contracting website that the Pentagon was planning to spend up to $125 million on a huge facility to support military-commission trials. The complex—which Rosenberg privately refers to as “Commissionsville”—would have included beds for 1,200 people, a dining area for 800, and hotel-style rooms for reporters.
But the project struck some as outlandishly expensive. More troubling, as Rosenberg revealed, the Pentagon had planned to bypass the standard congressional appropriations process by invoking certain post-9/11 emergency powers. Her stories helped provoke an uproar in Washington, and Robert Gates, the freshly nominated Defense Secretary, disowned the project during his testimony before Congress.
On this most unusual of beats, then, Rosenberg has made her bed—figuratively and, in this case, literally. And despite the recent turmoil, and her persistent criticisms of the way the military runs things at Guantánamo, she seems somehow suited to the story. So of course Rosenberg is taking a wait-and-see approach toward the liberalized media ground rules that were recently announced. The Guantánamo press officers who are charged with implementing the rules did not join a September 10 conference call when the new rules were described, as they had been expected to do. And when Rosenberg and nine other reporters next traveled to Guantánamo on September 20, no one there seemed aware at first of the new ground rules. None of that was encouraging.
After the last eighteen months, Rosenberg feels like the beat is unlikely to get more difficult than it has already been. “Every time something happens,” she says, “I just seem to stay here longer.”
CORRECTION 1/26/11: The article originally claimed Horton’s article suggested the detainees had been murdered by their guards. It makes no such claim, instead suggesting that other government agents may be responsible for the deaths. The text has been corrected.