Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Pride of our Nation

Mark Graber

Some excerts from Seymour Hirsch's new book, Chain of Command

But the interrogations at Guantánamo were a bust. Very little useful intelligence had been gathered, while prisoners from around the world continued to flow into the base, and the facility constantly expanded. The CIA analyst had been sent there to find out what was going wrong. He was fluent in Arabic and familiar with the Islamic world. He was held in high respect within the agency, and was capable of reporting directly, if he chose, to George Tenet, the CIA director. The analyst did more than just visit and inspect. He interviewed at least 30 prisoners to find out who they were and how they ended up in Guantánamo. Some of his findings, he later confided to a former CIA colleague, were devastating.

"He came back convinced that we were committing war crimes in Guantánamo," the colleague told me. "Based on his sample, more than half the people there didn't belong there. He found people lying in their own faeces," including two captives, perhaps in their 80s, who were clearly suffering from dementia. "He thought what was going on was an outrage," the CIA colleague added. There was no rational system for determining who was important.

"I was told," a senior intelligence official recalled, "that the military guards were slapping prisoners, stripping them, pouring cold water over them, and making them stand until they got hypothermia. The agents were outraged. It was wrong and also dysfunctional." The agents put their specific complaints in writing, the official told me, and they were relayed, in emails and phone calls, to officials at the department of defence, including William J Haynes II, the general counsel of the Pentagon. As far as day-to-day life for prisoners at Guantánamo was concerned, nothing came of it.

There was, obviously, a difference between the reality of prison life in Guantánamo and how it was depicted to the public in carefully stage-managed news conferences and statements released by the administration. American prison authorities have repeatedly assured the press and the public, for example, that the al-Qaida and Taliban detainees were provided with a minimum of three hours of recreation every week. For the tough cases, however, according to a Pentagon adviser familiar with detainee conditions in mid-2002, at recreation time some prisoners would be strapped into heavy jackets, similar to straitjackets, with their arms locked behind them and their legs straddled by straps. Goggles were placed over their eyes, and their heads were covered with a hood. The prisoner was then led at midday into what looked like a narrow fenced-in dog run - the adviser told me that there were photographs of the procedure - and given his hour of recreation. The restraints forced him to move, if he chose to move, on his knees, bent over at a 45-degree angle. Most prisoners just sat and suffered in the heat.
One of the marines assigned to guard duty at Guantánamo in 2003, who has since left the military, told me, after being promised anonymity, that he and his enlisted colleagues at the base were encouraged by their squad leaders to "give the prisoners a visit" once or twice a month, when there were no television crews, journalists, or other outside visitors at the prison.

Some questions.

Do you believe this is more true than false?

Do you believe President Bush and his cabinet members are aware of what is generally taking place?

Is this what Americans stand for or should Americans stand for this?


Unnamed sources, unnamed sources, unnamed sources. Why doesnt somebody go on the record, right a book and makes millions?

The new work by Seymour Hersh, on what went on at Guantanamo, confirms the suspicions of a lot of people regarding the real reason for the arrest of Captain James Yee, the Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo.

When he was arrested in September of 2003, it was reported by the Washington Times: "The Bush administration decided to arrest Army Capt. James J. Yee because it feared he would reveal information that could aid terrorists and endanger the lives of military guards at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba, a law-enforcement source said." Who were those high level people, who ordered his arrest? Why, when they knew they couldn't make the case on the espionage charges, did the Army go ahead with public testimony on the adultery charge? Were they trying to shut him up, as well as any other soldier who knew what was going on?

The high-level complicity in the unjust arrest of Chaplain Yee, should be investigated.

Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.
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