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August 25, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Guard at Guantanamo Bay

Courtesy of Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, deputy commander of the Joint Task Force-GTMO. His summary of a typical daily brief:

“Good morning sir, Chief Simmons Camp 6. We have 112 assigned, 112 present. Last night detainee 765 requested onions and parsley on his salad and requested to see the camp commander regarding his request. 844 wants a better detainee newsletter and 632 has requested a Bowflex machine because he says he is not getting enough of an upper body work out.

“We had 3 significant activities last night: 601 balled up feces and threw it at the guard hitting him in the chest saying next time he would hit him in the mouth. Next, as 155 was being taken to rec, he bit a guard on the arm until it bled. Detainee was not allowed rec and had comfort items removed. When asked why he did it, 155 just laughed. The guard was sent to medical where he is being evaluated. Finally, 767 yelled at female guard saying, ‘I am going to rape you. I am going to rape you. And when I get out of here I am going to kill you and your family.’ Sir, barring any questions, that concludes my report.”

Many may believe the above BUB report is exaggerated or hyperbole. It is not. It could have just as easily been a detainee demanding a lighter gray shirt because the dark gray shirt “hurts his gall bladder.” Or a detainee smearing feces on the walls of his cell. The guards refer to these detainees as “painters” or “poo-cassos.”

What occurs daily inside the wire is a bizarre mixture of the dangerous, the disgusting, and the absurd. And, despite urban legends and misperceptions, any mistreatment or abuse that goes on inside the camps is that of detainee-on-guard, not the reverse.

Here is the aftermath of the BUB.

Detainee 632 did not get his Bowflex machine. The guard who was bitten is fine. We are working on the parsley and onions request, but not too hard. The feces battles never end. In fact, the latest detainee tactic is to grow their fingernails long, put feces underneath the nails and then try to scratch a guard’s face.

Meanwhile, I happen to know the female guard who was verbally abused. Coincidentally we both went to Valley High in Albuquerque, N.M., albeit about 30 years apart. Still, we are both Vikings.

After the briefing, I saw this young soldier and said, “Hey Viking, I heard you had quite a night last night … are you OK?” She said, “Yes sir, I’m fine.”

I looked at her with some skepticism to see if what she was saying were true. What I saw in her eyes surprised me, but shouldn’t have. She really was fine. That detainee’s comments did not bother her in the least.

She is more than he will ever be and she is not alone. Rest assured if the guards at GTMO are any indication, the generation that is now coming of age will do its duty; they will defend our nation with courage, honor, and integrity. So don’t elevate the detainees to sainthood and don’t talk to me about unprofessional behavior, mistreatment or abuse at GTMO, because, frankly, I am more than a little sick of it.

This treatment has been reported by the Associated Press:

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.

"Lawyers for the detainees have done a great job painting their clients as innocent victims of U.S. abuse when the fact is that these detainees, as a group, are barbaric and extremely dangerous," Landmark President Mark Levin said. "They are using their terrorist training on the battlefield to abuse our guards and manipulate our Congress and our court system."

Though all detainees are foreigners, many are clearly Americanized when it comes to their insults and gestures. Male guards are frequently derided as "donkeys" while female guards are routinely called "bitches" or harassed by references to their breasts or genitalia, the reports said.

In all, nearly a quarter of incidents involved female guards, the reports show.

"They absolutely target female guards," Nicolucci said. "They have a lot of cultural biases about females, and we let them know in our culture that females do everything males do in a professional job environment, and we just hold firm."

James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association that sets standards for U.S. prisons, said much behavior inside Guantanamo mirrors that of civilian prisons though the attacks with bodily fluids seem more numerous.

"It happens from time to time at facilities here, but it seems the majority of ... assaults at Gitmo were either spitting, or bodily fluids being thrown on the guards," said Gondles, who has visited Guantanamo twice at the Pentagon's invitation and reviewed the reports at AP's request.

The bodily fluid attacks are so numerous that guards now frequently wear specialized shields to protect their faces.

The incident reports show waves of orchestrated behavior.

For instance, prisoners repeatedly grabbed their guards' whistles over a five-day period in June 2004. In July 2005, guards reported several instances of rock throwing, spitting and flip-flop hitting. Rocks were hidden under shower mats, the reports said.

The incident reports also are noteworthy for information that is missing. With redacted names, it is impossible to tell whether bad behavior is widespread or the work of a few repeat offenders. Likewise, the documents don't tell whether certain guards are prone to confrontation.

Prisoners' hunger strikes, suicide attempts and threats to injure themselves aren't considered disciplinary matters and thus aren't recorded in the incident reports. Yet the Pentagon acknowledges there have been scores of such incidents.

Interesting, what the media choose to emphasize, no?

Posted by Cassandra at August 25, 2008 08:36 AM

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Comments

> With redacted names, it is impossible to tell whether bad behavior is widespread or the work of a few repeat offenders. Likewise, the documents don't tell whether certain guards are prone to confrontation.

I am mildly surprised that they redact the names rather than just replacing them with "prisoner #xxxx" completely, from the start. why use a name at all?

Posted by: OBloodyhell at August 25, 2008 10:46 AM

In this case, identifying repeat offenders -- even by number -- in an open-source document would be reason for a defense attorney to pounce, declaring that pre-trial publicity had made it impossible for his client to get a fair trial and request that all charges be dropped.

Posted by: BillT at August 25, 2008 11:09 AM

Yep.

Posted by: Cass at August 25, 2008 11:27 AM

Cass, you are making me nostalgic ... Ahh for those halcyon days where rocks would buzz by my head, when feces and bottles full of urine were tossed my way ... oh those guys were real scamps!

Posted by: Frodo at August 25, 2008 12:32 PM

He didn't get his bowflex machine? Can I have it?

Posted by: Cricket at August 25, 2008 01:38 PM

Parsley?

*No*body eats parsley.

*waiting to see who recalls that particular punch line*

Posted by: BillT at August 25, 2008 02:32 PM

This sort of behavior doesn't excuse the excesses at Abu Ghraib. They do make you wonder what sort of behavior there drove the M.P.'s in charge of the place to do what they did.

I think we should send John Murtha, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid there on a fact finding mission.

Posted by: vet66 at August 25, 2008 04:25 PM

No, no, no, vet66. Only *our* actions drive people to abhorrent behavior. *Never* the other way around.

You see, we are moral actors making moral choices. Those other people can't be held responsible for their actions. They lack the capability for moral decisions.

(Jeez, it hurts to think like an America hating leftist)

Speaking of 'hurtin', sounds like some prisoners need to be given constipation inducing diets.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 25, 2008 05:46 PM

Finally, 767 yelled at female guard saying, ‘I am going to rape you. I am going to rape you. And when I get out of here I am going to kill you and your family.’ Sir, barring any questions, that concludes my report.”

Hm. Is there video surviellance of the cells? Because threatening a federal officer pursuant to their official duties is likely a federal crime.

Posted by: RonF at August 25, 2008 05:46 PM

I can only marvel at the self control the staff at Gitmo must posses. They are better than I Gunga Din.

While I would not allow verbal abuse to keep me from my appointed rounds... A physical assault on my person, consisting of anything, might result in a short tête-à-tête regarding how potential energy becomes kinetic energy becomes behavior modification or traction.

Posted by: bt_careful-with-that-axe-Eugene_hun at August 25, 2008 06:05 PM

How dare they try to assault their torturers, Cass. Will the inhumanity never cease?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 06:10 PM

‘I am going to rape you. I am going to rape you. And when I get out of here I am going to kill you and your family.’

When somebody like me turns you into a woman utilizing the West's advanced gender change technology, I'll be sure to remember that.

The 'terrors' need to be in Gitmo and they know it. Cause they also know they don't want to be under the power of someone like me, someone like me who also won't have to worry about legalities.

They know that perfectly well, even if they try to deny it to themselves in the darkest corners of their soul.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 06:55 PM

Yep.

Posted by: Cass at August 25, 2008 11:27 AM

It is a classic siege scenario where you have insides on the inside and enemies on the outside. What do you do?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 06:59 PM

They are not Federal officers.

They are soldiers. There's strong, and then there's Army Strong (even though this is a Marine website).

They are guarding prisoners of war, captured on the field of battle, and said prisoners were out of uniform, without national insignia, without a chain of command or serving under any recognized national government or flag. By rights (that's the Geneva Convention) they could be shot.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco. The War on Terror may be in a lull right now, as we seem to have quashed the insurgents in Iraq, but the cousins and friends of the animals imprisoned in Gitmo are still out there in the dark, planning something really grotesque. And it won't be striped shirts with plaid pants.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 25, 2008 07:34 PM

You should not call them prisoners of war, for those have a legal protection that illegal combatants do not.

They also have an ethical protection that illegal combatants don't have nor deserve.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 08:35 PM

As Israel traded a couple of child murdering terrorists for two dead Israeli bodies, this is the exact same reason why there is a need to keep terrorists captive.

You need them as a source of body parts if an America was ever taken alive and we could negotiate him out. Given that Palestinians believe that a couple of alive terrorists are worth just as much as two dead Israelis, how many GitMo detainees will have to be chopped up to equal an American Soldier or Marine or pilot?

A lot. By their standards, quite a lot.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 08:37 PM

Next, as 155 was being taken to rec, he bit a guard on the arm until it bled.

Pop his eye out next time. Breaking the corneal shouldn't be that hard even if scooping the eye out is. I cannot guarantee that this mad dogs won't try it again, but such incidences will decrease somewhat. Until they have no eyes left to see with, that is.

They don't need eyes to live, be in prison, sleep, and eat. Do they?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 25, 2008 08:43 PM

"Interesting, what the media choose to emphasize, no?"

S.S.D.D.

Posted by: camojack at August 26, 2008 03:54 AM

vet66 - "This sort of behavior doesn't excuse the excesses at Abu Ghraib. They do make you wonder what sort of behavior there drove the M.P.'s in charge of the place to do what they did."

There are sooooo many reasons behind Abu Ghraib its hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there.

Here are a few -

Unity of Command, one of the principles of war we all learn in OCS or ROTC, was non-existent (and was still broken to some extent when I was there). The units performing different operations for detainee ops, interrogation, guard, base protection, base operations ... all had different chains of command.

Abu Ghraib was a black hole ... at the time it was filled with garbage, had poor drainage which resulted in standing pools of foul water (with occasional body parts (the remains of former prisoners under Saddam) floating to the surface. The place was shelled constantly, small arms fire from nearby apartments and farms, convoys attacked and no one made any effort to secure the surrounding area (this was another area that they didn't address until the April 2005 attack). The food and life services to the soldiers was criminally bad. Bottom line, this generated among the troops bitterness against their own chain of command (for what they perceived as indifference to their well being) and against the detainees (soldier logic - if it weren't for them I wouldn't be in this ****hole).

Staffing - the soldiers were vastly understaffed for the amount of prisoners they were watching. The result was junior NCO's had far more responsibility and autonomy then they should have with minimal supervision.

Then there is just plain stupidity. Intelligence officers and NCO's thinking the normal rules had changed after 9-11 encouraging the breaking down of detainees in the hopes they would crack and reveal info, encouraging troops guarding the prisoners to do so as well, who already had too much autonomy and bitterness (see above).

Posted by: Frodo at August 26, 2008 10:02 AM

A pet for each of them...in the way of the swine family would keep them in order.

Posted by: pao at August 26, 2008 11:55 AM

> In this case, identifying repeat offenders -- even by number -- in an open-source document would be reason for a defense attorney to pounce, declaring that pre-trial publicity had made it impossible for his client to get a fair trial and request that all charges be dropped.

That is an absurd claim. Unless there was an open connection made in a public forum, this makes no sense. I'm assuming that there is a particular reason why they don't want to release names having to do with such individuals dealing with, if nothing else, the potential for some communication to occur. By using numbers, it makes it much more difficult for outsiders to reliably identify any specific connection between an event and any intended message.

> I think we should send John Murtha, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid there on a fact finding mission.

Wearing guard uniforms, no less.

> You should not call them prisoners of war, for those have a legal protection that illegal combatants do not.

You may find several interesting analyses of this over at NoOilForPacifists ovre the last couple months. Carl is an attorney, so when he analyzes the legal element of something, you can assume he has a clue (He generally concurs with your position, but you may find his reasons useful in debate).

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 26, 2008 12:18 PM

> A pet for each of them...in the way of the swine family would keep them in order.

I've always thought that this aversion to swine is underrated as a technique.

1) All airline flights should have pigs on board, either carcasses or perhaps live ones. Crash the plane, your remains get mixed in with the swine. No virgins for you.

2) Islamofascists killed in the performance of terrorist actions should be cremated in pigskins, while covered with pig's blood, and the ashes spread in a pig sty. Don't like it? Simple to avoid: Don't be killed performing terrorist acts. Ditto for anyone executed for the performance of same.

I'm sure there are plenty of other related techniques which can be applied, if some imaginatative applications are sought.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 26, 2008 12:26 PM

I'm no expert but I think the Guard Battalion at Gitmo is made up of IA personnel recruited from the Navy and Navy Reserve

Posted by: Curtis at August 26, 2008 01:38 PM

I've always thought that this aversion to swine is underrated as a technique.

This is really a common misconception based around a dubious claim about how we handled the Phillipino Insurrection. First off, the story of burying the Moros with pig corpses has never been proven. It was a story spread after the Insurrection was over. No one has ever produced evidence that a single pig/Moro burial ever occured, it's more of 'friend of a friend said he heard' kind of stuff.

Secondly, Islam is pretty clear about the whole "unclean" thing. It's only if you CHOOSE to consume something "unclean" when you have a choice in the matter that it puts your soul in jeapordy. In fact, there's precident that a Moslem who is starving to death is perfectly ok eating pig flesh if the only other choice is dying. And as for bacon-greasing bullets or having your corpse put in the ground with a pig, it would have no effect on your soul (as it's already gone, and it's not like you chose to take a bacon-y bullet in the first place).

Remember, the 19 hijackers consumed alcohol, and frequented strip clubs prior to their actions on Sept 11th. Normally, that'd be as bad as eating pork, but they believed all was forgiven when they 'martyred' themselves, so a pig on the plane wouldn't have deterred them in the least.

Posted by: MikeD at August 26, 2008 02:14 PM

What about snakes on a plane?

I saw that one in a movie (well, I actually never saw the movie, just heard about it, as it was pretty stupid).

But I bet snakes on a plane would do it. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 26, 2008 02:47 PM

That is an absurd claim.

Yup. It's also standard for a defense lawyer to claim it.

If the judge glowers, they try another tack.

Posted by: BillT at August 26, 2008 02:50 PM

...but they believed all was forgiven when they 'martyred' themselves...

That and the Koranic verses permitting them to dissemble in order to deceive the enemy.

A Wahhabi can justify *anything* based on the nuance of the shadow of the penumbra of the hint that his imam tells him appears in the Koran.

Posted by: BillT at August 26, 2008 02:58 PM

That too. :)

Posted by: MikeD at August 26, 2008 04:28 PM

A Wahhabi can justify *anything* based on the nuance of the shadow of the penumbra of the hint that his imam tells him appears in the Koran.

Doesn't that mean they only need hallucinogens, instead of the Koran or even an Imam?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 27, 2008 09:23 PM

This is my second tour to GITMO, I have gone from seeing terrorists being held in a detainee status by armed services to armed services serving as a catering service. To all of you who honestly believe that the people who planned on blowing up innocent Americans are being held against their will, and are being tortured the only words I have that come to mind are F**K YOU YOU DUMB TW*TS!!!!!

(Note: asterisks added by the Editorial Staff to protect the readership from scary bad words. So sue us.)

Posted by: Nick at January 21, 2010 11:52 PM

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