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Monday, July 31, 2006

John Solomon Will Never Work In This Town Again 

It's freedom fighers, John. Freedom fighters. Confess the error of your ways:

Gitmo guards often attacked by detainees
By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay during the war on terror have attacked their military guards hundreds of times, turning broken toilet parts, utensils, radios and even a bloody lizard tail into makeshift weapons.

Pentagon incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press show Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by "cocktails" of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners....

Guards currently stationed at Guantanamo describe a tense atmosphere in which prisoners often orchestrate violence in hopes of unnerving their captors, especially with attacks using bodily fluids.

"I mean, seeing a human being act that way, it's terrifying. ... You are constantly watching before you take your next step to see if something is about to happen," Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Mack D. Keen told AP in an interview from Guantanamo.

"You see little signs. They kind of show their hand every once in a while. They'll take their Quran and they'll cover it up," he said. "When you see a group of detainees taking their Quran and putting it away, you know something is about to happen."

But there are claims that all is not as it seems:

Moazamm Begg, 38, a prisoner for more than two years at Guantanamo before being released to Great Britain, said he was suspicious of the Pentagon's description of incidents, especially allegations that Muslim men tore their Qurans or used sperm in attacks. The Pentagon continues to publicly question Begg's claim of innocence.

"This just doesn't make sense — especially since for Muslims this would be something that was disgusting, something that just wouldn't be done," he said. He added that some detainees told him they had mixed toothpaste and spit in the cocktails to make it look like semen.

And be advised that the mild-mannered spork can be used as a weapon:

Tensions likewise flared during Christmas week 2004, with inmates frequently spitting on guards. On Christmas Eve, a prisoner who was angry that he couldn't finish his meal was said to have used a plastic fork-spoon utensil — called a spork — to attack a guard collecting his tray.

"Detainee stabbed the MP guard ... in the hand with his spork from chow meal," the report said, adding the prisoner later "made a slicing motion across his neck" and vowed to kill the guard.

The Landmark Legal Foundation fought the Pentagon to get these reports released. They have an agenda to counter the agenda of others:

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.

"Lawyers for the detainees have done a great job painting their clients as innocent victims of U.S. abuse when the fact is that these detainees, as a group, are barbaric and extremely dangerous," Landmark President Mark Levin said. "They are using their terrorist training on the battlefield to abuse our guards and manipulate our Congress and our court system."

And the American Correctional Association has waded into the debate:

James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association that sets standards for U.S. prisons, said much behavior inside Guantanamo mirrors that of civilian prisons though the attacks with bodily fluids seem more numerous.

"It happens from time to time at facilities here, but it seems the majority of ... assaults at Gitmo were either spitting, or bodily fluids being thrown on the guards," said Gondles, who has visited Guantanamo twice at the Pentagon's invitation and reviewed the reports at AP's request.

The bodily fluid attacks are so numerous that guards now frequently wear specialized shields to protect their faces.

But imagine being a Muslim chaplain in such a situation. This report is from 2002:

Tensions were high. Prisoners complained of prolonged sessions in frigid, air-conditioned interrogation rooms, music blaring, forced by chains to squat on the floor. Even some FBI agents assigned here were growing squeamish, writing secret memos questioning the military's tactics.

For their part, guards complained of being pelted by urine, spit and feces as they patrolled the cellblocks.

It was an uneasy place for a Muslim chaplain, or any service member who shared the faith of the "enemy combatants." Inmates viewed them as traitors to the faith. Guards, made up almost entirely of Army reservists and National Guardsmen, looked on them as sympathizers of the fanatics who had spawned the 9/11 attacks.

Each of the three Muslim chaplains who had served at the base before Yee had run afoul of the guards to some degree, and one had been investigated on the false suspicion that he had helped prisoners send messages home.

But Yee seemed to have something his predecessors did not. He was a chaplain who had studied in Syria, spoke Arabic, yet had the military bearing of a West Point graduate.

In the year since the 9/11 attacks, he had become the military's most prominent chaplain while stationed at Fort Lewis, briefing soldiers, generals and the media on the tenets of Islam and calling for tolerance within the ranks.

In the fall of 2002, he received orders to report to Guantánamo....

Yee settled into Guantánamo life, making friends among his Muslim co-workers. He pushed to have a classroom in the base chapel converted into a mosque for the dozens of Islamic translators and service members deployed there. And he continued the mission he had begun back at Fort Lewis in the days after 9/11 — to educate troops that Islam was a religion of peace.

But issues eventually went south:

When returning from duty at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, he was arrested on September 10, 2003, in Jacksonville, Florida and charged with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. He was then transferred to a United States Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

The government did not name the country or entity for whom it suspected Yee was spying.

All court-martial charges against Yee were quietly dropped on March 19, 2004, and he was released to resume his duties. In April the noncriminal charges of adultery and storing pornography on government computers were dropped. He retired from the US military with an honorable discharge in January, but he is also seeking an apology.

In October 2005 Yee's book, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire (ISBN 1586483692), was published. In it Yee wrote that he was kept in solitary confinement for seventy-six days, and that he was forced to undergo sensory deprivation.

But there's no record of him throwing poo at anyone.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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