The Truth Will Out

From a new blog, American Torture

Justice at Guantanamo

Imagine the police are called in to investigate an alleged beating, but interview only the suspects and don’t speak to the alleged victim. Then imagine detectives close the investigation after all the suspects have made statements insisting they are innocent. This is not an imagined scenario: this is how justice is administered at Guantanamo Bay.

Last October, Sgt. Heather Cerveny, a Pentagon paralegal assisting in the case US v Omar Khadr, had a few drinks at the Windjammers Club at Guantanamo. Cerveny spent about an hour chatting with guards– what she heard was shocking. According to a sworn statement made by Cerveny:

“[A guard named] Bo told the other guards and me about him beating different detainees held being held in the prison. One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee by the head and hitting the the detainee’s head into the cell door. Bo said his actions were known by others. … [Another guard named Steven] stated that he used to work in Camp 5 but now works in Camp 6. He works on one of the ‘blocks’ as a guard. He told me that even when a detainee is being good, they will take their personal items away. He said they do this to anger the detainees so that they can punish them when they object or complain. I asked Steven why he treats the detainees this way. He said it is because he hates the detainees and that they are bad people. … In addition to the above incidents, about 5 others in the group admitted hitting detainees, to including ‘punching in the face.’ From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice.”

The US Southern Command deemed the statement “credible” and tasked Army Col. Richard Basset to investigate. The result, according the AP, was that “Basset told Cerveny the guards denied her account of their conversation in a Guantanamo bar — and the investigator accused her of having made a false statement.”

Basset’s final report was released this week. He recommended no disciplinary action be taken against the guards named by Cerveny. According to Jose Ruiz, Southern Command spokesperson: “He talked to all the parties he felt he needed to get information about the allegations that were made.” Basset conducted 20 interviews with “suspects and witnesses”– but did not speak with any of the alleged victims. The case is now closed.

Read it here.

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