Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Guantánamo Testimonials

I just finished watching Rachel Maddow interview Spc. Brandon Neely. Neely served as a guard at Guantánamo and voluntarily gave his testimony to The Guantánamo Testimonials Project (if video doesn't show, click here):

After watching this video and reading Neely's detailed testimony, I'm struck by one part that reveals the young soldier's initial naivety and lack of training:
After waiting a couple hours we got the call that the detainees were at the air strip and being loaded up to bring to the camp. I started getting really nervous; almost scared. I keep thinking "Here it comes; I am fixing to see what a terrorist looks like face-to-face." I remember my escort partner saying over and over "I got your back, man, if anything happens." I could tell he was as nervous as I was. Everyone in the camp that day was nervous and scared; you could literally hear a pin drop moments before that bus full of detainees arrived.
I know one intended effect of war propaganda is to dehumanize the enemy, but what could he have been expecting? Glowing eyes? Fangs? I guess Rumsfeld's rhetoric about the "worst of the worst" really worked on these guards.

So I take that into account when I read the rest of the testimony. Neely was a good person in an evil environment with orders coming down from Rummy. He has, by coming forward, demonstrated his conscience.
I am fine with this being part of my testimony. I want it to be told no matter how it makes me look. I believe it's very important people know what happened there. I am sure there were (and are) a lot of detainees in Guantanamo that are guilty of something. But, on the other hand, there are a lot that are not guilty of nothing at all other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And no one, guilty or innocent, should be treated in the manner they have been.
But his accounts of the psychological and medical abuse he witnessed was more shocking and evil than I expected. That medics can laugh while stretching injured limbs and giving rectal exams is sickening. I was raised to believe that only Nazis did this shit and we're better than that. Not true. Not true at all.

Who's going to be held responsible?

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