internal guantanamo document leaked
Rule of violence
Sunday October 3, 2004
Inside Camp Delta, the British former Guant�namo
prisoner Shafiq Rasul told me: 'There's only one rule
that matters. You have to obey whatever US government
personnel tell you to do.' The cost of disobedience
was high: possibly a visit from the camp's 'Extreme
Reaction Force (ERF)', a squad of guards in riot gear,
which is said by several detainees to have carried out
When these allegations first surfaced, American
spokesmen denied them. A leaked internal Guant�namo
document, published here for the first time and headed
'Detainee Standards of Conduct', suggests Rasul and
the others were telling the truth.
'The following is a set of standards detainees WILL
follow at ALL times,' it begins. 'Failure to follow
the following standards will result in strict
punishment by US security forces.'
The first two rules allow 30 minutes for detainees to
eat their meals, and just five minutes for showers,
although here 'amputees are authorised 10-15 minutes
for showers'. Then they become more menacing:
3. Detainees WILL NOT be disrespectful to any US
security forces personnel or other detainees.
4. Detainees will follow the orders of US security
forces at ALL times.
5. Detainee units can and WILL be searched at any
6. Detainees WILL NOT harass, annoy, harm or otherwise
interfere with the safety or operation of the
7. Detainees WILL NOT touch, spit, or throw any object
at US security forces personnel or other detainees. If
any non-issued objects are found in or around unit
area, detainees WILL inform US security forces, with
no disciplinary action taken.
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8 Detainees WILL keep noise down to a low
conversational level. At no time will a detainee be
allowed to yell or become unruly. At no time will
detainees communicate across block areas.
It is perhaps the last rule which is the most
13. US Security Forces RESERVE THE RIGHT to alter or
temporarily cease the above standards if necessary.
Gitmo's public affairs spokesman will not disclose the
details of the 'strict punishment' threatened in the
document's preamble. However, it has now emerged that
ERF deployments have all been videotaped, and in July
the Pentagon told the Associated Press that 'only 32
hours' of these tapes revealed 'excessive force'.
Although they maintain that the 'unlawful combatants'
at Guant�namo do not deserve the protection of the
Geneva Conventions, President Bush and Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have repeatedly claimed that
the regime at Camp Delta is nevertheless 'consistent
with Geneva's principles'.
In these secret rules, as in much else, Guant�namo is,
in fact, in flagrant breach of this fundamental piece
of international law. If one sought to construct and
manage a prison camp with Geneva as a blueprint, it
would be not resemble Camp Delta in any significant
way. Detainees would, for example, be able to move
freely within a secure perimeter and, instead of being
locked in tiny cells for 24 hours a day, would largely
organise their own lives.
According to the conventions' article 21: 'The
detaining Power may subject prisoners of war to
internment. It may impose on them the obligation of
not leaving ... the camp where they are interned, or
if the said camp is fenced in, of not going outside
Under Article 96, 'Before any disciplinary award is
pronounced, the accused shall be given precise
information regarding the offences of which he is
accused, and given an opportunity of explaining his
conduct and of defending himself. He shall be
permitted ... to call witnesses and to have recourse,
if necessary, to the services of a qualified
interpreter.' Needless to say, at Guant�namo, there
have been no such hearings.