Day 6

Former Guantanamo guard calls for torture report on military

On this week's show, Brent talks to former Guantanamo Bay prison Army guard Brandon Neely about the abuse he committed and the torture he witnessed at Gitmo. Neely is calling for a military-focused torture report similar to what the CIA issued this week....

On this week's show, Brent talks to former Guantanamo Bay prison Army guard Brandon Neely about the abuse he committed and the torture he witnessed at Gitmo. Neely is calling for a military-focused torture report similar to what the CIA issued this week.

Brent Bambury: This week you tweeted "Can we get a Torture Report on the military?  I am sure that report would be double if not triple in size." What would a report on the military include?
Brandon Neely: I think a torture report on the military would include a lot. Obviously everybody knows about Abu Ghraib but also all the stuff that went on at Guantanamo, as far as just everyday activities as far as the five man [internal reaction force], the way they treated detainees to the way that detainees had been treated and mistreated in Bagram air force base in Afghanistan where a lot of people forget the army actually killed a detainee that they held there many years ago named Dilawar who was a taxi cab driver. Some of those guys were prosecuted, some of them weren't. But I think the CIA obviously has tortured people it also was the military as well.  
The Senate report does mention that the CIA held detainees at Guantanamo Bay prisons. You never witnessed interrogations when you were working there as an MP, but do you think the military had a role in the torture relating to the interrogations, could you explain that? 
We were told from day one when we got to Guantanamo that how we treated the detainees on the blocks and how we dealt with them was going to help the interrogators. So pretty much we were there to soften them up for when to interrogation. The definition of torture is so vague. Is it mental distress? Is it physical harm? Is it locking innocent people up in a cage for years without time without charges, is that torture? Is handcuffing someone to a chain link fence and beating them unconscious torture? Is beating someone until they are unconscious and it stains the cement floor with blood and they have to go to the hospital for days? Is that torture? Because all that stuff happened at Guantanamo.
Those were all things that you witnessed?
Witnessed, ya. Things I saw or, I've always been honest, took part in. To me that's torture as well. So everybody from the military on down, we've all had a hand in it. Whether it started at the lowest level or all the way to the top, everybody is guilty of some form of torture.
How were you instructed to treat detainees as a guard at Guantanamo Bay?
When I was at Guantanamo we had no formal training as far as what we were going to do. We were actually told before we left the United States that the Geneva Convention would not be in effect, as these guys were not prisoners of war, they were detainees. They were very strict about the way we talked about them, it was called detainees. But we weren't told how to treat them. Literally there was no standard operating procedure when I was there. The first one didn't come out until almost a year after I had left. If something didn't work on a Monday we changed it on Tuesday...we were actually told this is the front line in the war. These guys are going to give us the information that's going to stop future attacks. We weren't told really what to do but we weren't told what not to do. It was kinda like, whatever happens happens. 
You've talked about what happened with an older detainee the very first day that the detainees arrived at Camp X-Ray. Can you tell me about that?
The day Camp X-Ray opened I was involved in the first physical altercation that ever happened there. Me and a partner were escorting an older detainee, we put him into the cell, we put him on his knees, took his leg shackles off and went to take his handcuffs off. And we had an interpretor with us. He was supposedly telling him we were going to take the handcuffs off. We'd reach in to take them off and he kept moving. And he did this about three of four times and the last time he lunged to the left or like jerked to the left, that was the side I was on. When he moved I slammed him face first into the concrete. Every time he tried to get up I just continued to slam his head into the concrete. And the five man [internal reaction force] team came in and they called a code red which at that time was an emergency and then they hog tied the guy and the guy laid there for hours hog tied. The next day I came back to the camp and the whole side of his face was bruised up, scabbed up and bloody. I come to find out from a detainee that was on the block that spoke English told me that one: the guy didn't speak the correct dialect of Arabic that the interpretor did so he didn't understand what he was saying and two: he couldn't see because he still had goggles on and he thought that when we put him on his knees that he actually was going to be executed. Because where he was from he had actually seen people be executed in that manner.
On Thursday CIA director John Brennan said that the agency has room to improve but he wants to put aside the debate over interrogations and look to the future. Do you think that enough has changed for that to happen?
No I don't think you can just move on with it. A report, and I'm sorry, it doesn't make up for all the people that have been tortured. The hundreds of people that have been tortured and continue to be tortured. That's one thing that people forget. They are still force feeding people at Guantanamo on a daily basis against their will, which many doctors have said is a form of torture. No. Just having a report and saying I'm sorry and not having nobody prosecuted, nobody held responsible, it doesn't do no good. It hasn't done nothing. The only person that sits in prison from the CIA was the person that exposed torture, John Kiriakou, who is sitting in prison right now for refusing to take part in the torture program and exposing it. 

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