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Marine: Gitmo guards bragged of beatings

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061006/ap_on_re_us/guantanamo_alleged_abuse Marine: Gitmo guards bragged of beatings By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer 53
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2006
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      Marine: Gitmo guards bragged of beatings

      By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer 53 minutes

      CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Guards at Guantanamo Bay
      bragged about beating detainees and described it as
      common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn
      statement obtained by The Associated Press.

      The two-page statement was sent Wednesday to the
      Inspector General at the Department of Defense by a
      high-ranking Marine Corps defense lawyer.

      The lawyer sent the statement on behalf of a paralegal
      who said men she met on Sept. 23 at a bar on the base
      identified themselves to her as guards. The woman,
      whose name was blacked out, said she spent about an
      hour talking with them. No one was in uniform, she

      A 19-year-old sailor referred to only as Bo "told the
      other guards and me about him beating different
      detainees being held in the prison," the statement

      "One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee
      by the head and hitting the detainee's head into the
      cell door. Bo said that his actions were known by
      others," but that he was never punished, the statement
      said. The paralegal was identified in the affidavit as
      a sergeant working on an unidentified
      Guantanamo-related case.

      The statement was provided to the AP on Thursday night
      by Lt. Col. Colby Vokey. He is the Marine Corps'
      defense coordinator for the western United States and
      based at Camp Pendleton.

      A Guantanamo Bay spokesman said the base would
      cooperate with any Pentagon investigation. A Pentagon
      spokesman declined immediate comment. A call to the
      inspector general's office was not immediately

      Other guards "also told their own stories of abuse
      towards the detainees" that included hitting them,
      denying them water and "removing privileges for no

      "About 5 others in the group admitted hitting
      detainees" and that included "punching in the face,"
      the affidavit said.

      "From the whole conversation, I understood that
      striking detainees was a common practice," the
      sergeant wrote. "Everyone in the group laughed at the
      others stories of beating detainees."

      Vokey called for an investigation, saying the abuse
      alleged in the affidavit "is offensive and violates
      United States and international law."

      Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand condemned abuse or harassment
      of detainees and said he would cooperate fully with
      the inspector general.

      "The mission of the Joint Task Force is the safe and
      humane care and custody of detained enemy combatants,"
      he said.

      Guantanamo was internationally condemned shortly after
      it opened more than four years ago when pictures
      captured prisoners kneeling, shackled and being herded
      into wire cages. That was followed by reports of
      prisoner abuse, heavy-handed interrogations, hunger
      strikes and suicides.

      Military investigators said in July 2005 they
      confirmed abusive and degrading treatment of a
      suspected terrorist at Guantanamo Bay that included
      forcing him to wear a bra, dance with another man and
      behave like a dog.

      However, the chief investigator, Air Force Lt. Gen.
      Randall M. Schmidt, said "no torture occurred" during
      the interrogation of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who
      was captured in December 2001 along the
      Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

      Last month, U.N. human rights investigators criticized
      the United States for failing to take steps to close
      Guantanamo Bay, home to 450 detainees, including 14
      terrorist suspects who had been kept in secret
      CIA prisons around the world.

      Described as the most dangerous of America's "war on
      terror" prisoners, fewer than a dozen inmates have
      been charged with crimes.


      AP Writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to
      this report.
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