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A Military Intelligence Soldier's Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

We (democracynow.org) speak with former army sergeant, Erik Saar who served as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo Bay for six months. Among the abuses he says he witnessed was sexual abuse, mock interrogations, the use of dogs and a female interrogator smearing what looked like menstrual blood on a Muslim prisoner. He also says children were imprisoned at Guantanamo and that the military ordered them not to speak to the Red Cross.

We begin today by continuing our extensive look into the abuse and outright torture of prisoners held by the US government since the onset of the so-called war on terror. Three years ago, most people in this country or around the world had never heard of Guantanamo Bay Cuba or the Abu Ghraib prison, two places that have now become global symbols of the US war on terror. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the breaking of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

To date, no senior military officials have been held accountable for the systematic abuse of prisoners held by the US military. Lawyers for the rank-and-file soldiers who have been prosecuted say that their clients are cogs in a much bigger wheel that goes higher up the chain of command. This weekend, The New York Times reported on a high-level military investigation into accusations of detainee abuse at the Guantanamo Prison camp. While its findings fall far short in describing the extent of the abuse that human rights groups and released prisoners allege are taking place there, it did reveal some significant details.

It concluded that several prisoners were mistreated or humiliated, perhaps illegally, as a result of efforts to devise innovative methods to gain information. The report on the investigation is still a few weeks from being completed and released. The Times says it will deal with accounts by FBI agents who complained after witnessing detainees subjected to several forms of harsh treatment. The FBI agents wrote in memorandums that were never meant to be disclosed publicly that they had seen female interrogators forcibly squeeze male prisoners" genitals, and that they had witnessed other detainees stripped and shackled low to the floor for many hours.

This comes as a former U.S army linguist who worked as an Arabic translator at the U.S prison camp in Guantanamo is speaking out. Erik Saar was stationed at the camp from December 2002 to June 2003. He has just written a new book called "Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier's Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo," in which he describes a wide range of practices and techniques used by U.S military officers at Guantanamo and condoned by senior officers.

By: http://www.democracynow.org

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