Some context first. A CBC reporter was allowed access to Guantanamo Bay to do a report. All part of the military’s information warfare no doubt. (I wonder if he tried the glazed chicken…) His report included an interview with Army Spec. Sean Baker, who suffered brain damage when he was beaten during a training session by his fellow Americans, part of the initial response force team.
My rough transcript of Neil MacDonald’s report for the CBC’s The National on Guantanamo Bay follows.
The segment is available for viewing online (The National). Click on the ‘Watch the National Online’ link for Real Player. The segment begins 37:57 in.
(Again, note that these are a rough transcript taken while watching the television program. Some sections missing. And thanks to zander for initially catching the program.)
NM: Journalists have been allowed inside of Guantanamo Bay (G.B.).
[The piece starts with an image of detainees praying.]
NM: 5 times a day as stipulated by their prophet, they heed the call.
NM: 528 men are being held at G.B.
NM: They have been characterized as the worst, most dangerous criminals. Guarding them is a singular honour by their jailors.
NM: No court has ever agreed or had a chance to agree, because G.B. operates in shadows.
[Interview w/ Brig-Gen Jay Wood.]
NM: Do you regard the detainees as terrorists.
NM: A perfect limbo for men deemed no rights. A legal black hole.
Tom Wilner, lawyer for detainees: We’ve created a culture of illegality. We’re treating the law as an impediment.
NM: The military acts as judge and jury, and metes out punishment. Some are questioning this trust is dissolving because what is going on here is not right. A number of prominent politicians are speaking out.
[Clip of Jimmy Carter speaking out agasint G.B.]
[Clip of Sen. Leahy arguing for the closing of the base.]
[Military lawyer – missed name – giving testimony.]
NM: They say they are sorry, but there are new realities now.
[Clip of Rumsfeld talking about the new terrorism.]
NM: US laws do not apply at the camp, but after the exposure they did institute new rules.
[NM discusses what happens when a detainee is brought before the tribunal.]
NM: They have brought a detainee in front of the tribunal. He is chained to the floor, hands and feet. Three colonels face him. The tribunal has produced no evidence. The questions are brief and the detainee was told he’d have a decision shortly.
NM: Not one prisoner has been released due to these tribunals.
NM: We were not allowed to speak with any prisoners. But CBC radio was able to pick up this conversation between 2 guards and a detainee [via long range mic I suspect]:
Detainee: We’ve got no legal rights. Nobody knows us. The world doesn’t know about us.
NM: The attention paid to religious rights here is unbelievable.
NM: Arrows pointing to Mecca. [Shows arrow painted on cot under mattress.]
NM: Korans are hanging in every cell, and US guards are not allowed to touch them. [Shows books hanging in slings on cell bars.]
[Shows medical care centre – missed some information here.]
NM: Prisoner’s medical files have been used to hone interrogation techniques.
NM: Amnesty International has called it the gulag of our times.
NM: Reports of vindictive guards and extremely coercive interrogations.
NM: This is not a fun place to be.
[Interview with Sean Baker, army specialist, who was brutally beaten by fellow Americans when he posed as a detainee during a training session.]
NM: After 9/11 he enlisted. In 2003 he was sent to be a guard in G.B.
SB: I thought I was going there to play a key role in the war on terror.
NM: He learned quickly about the initial response force.
SB: I didn’t see people wailing on detainees, but mainly techniques used to control or restrain.
NM: He was asked to help with training and posed as a detainee.
SB: They grabbed me and pushed me down on the floor.
SB: When I started to run out of air I started to panic and get scared. I felt like I was going to black out. I said, ‘Red, red.’ [The code word to stop.]
SB: They slammed my head down against the floor. It stunned me real bad. I had enough sense about me to say ‘I’m a US soldier.’ I said it twice. Then he slammed my head against the floor two more times.
SB: He shouldn’t have treated a detainee that way. I never did.
NM: You weren’t kicking or biting? You were submitting?
SB: I was cooperating.
NM: The attack left Baker with brain damage and uncontrollable seizures. He was D/C from the military. There have been no reports on why it happened. To this day the Pentagon is still reviewing the matter.
[NM asked Baker if he believes the response team abuses the detainees.]
SB: I would not care to comment on that sir. I know what happens. I saw what happens.
[Again with Brig-Gen Jay Wood]
NM: Soldiers had a code word to stop the exercise.
NM: This young man was beaten within an inch of his life and left with brain damage.
JW: That’s what Baker told you. The guard force here is well trained and capable of extraction.
NM: He [Brig-Gen Wood] will not discuss what happened last year, before his watch.
Others wouldn’t talk about the past either.
[Interviewing guard Michael Bumgarner.]
MB: I care about them as human beings and that we treat them with dignity and respect.
NM: The military did release a lot of prisoners after the court intervened. 234 were released. 67 were handed over to the custody of other countries. 167 were released outright.
NM: Journalists and politicians tour regularly, but a lot of it remains in the shadows.
TW, detainee lawyer: When we abandon our principles we give every other country the ability to use the same. Can you imagine the reaction of Americans, if some country began kidnapping citizens off the street and taking them away to some prison on some island somewhere.
[Again with Brig-Gen Jay Wood]
NM: Would you be happy with US nationals or uniformed soldiers getting the same treatment as these people are being treated?
JW: Sure. I think you’re really mixing apples and oranges if your mixing those who are members of the Geneva Conventions versus terrorists.
NM: That answer seems to satisfy the American public.
[Charles Swift, Military Lawyer.]
CS: Fear played a large part of why this was allowed to happen.
NM: The official line, G.B. will handle prisoners at the military’s pleasure until the global war on terror ends.
NM: And it might not be in this lifetime.