(NaturalNews) Specialist Brandon Neely, a member of the U.S. Army, witnessed horrifying events at Guantanamo Bay: Beatings, sexual abuse, prisoner humiliation, forced medication, torture... and many of these acts were carried out by American doctors and medical personnel.
In December of 2008, Spc. Brandon Neely found the courage to share his story with the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA). His interview, which was recorded and transcribed, is now posted in full at the University of California Davis website (http://humanrights.ucdavis.edu/projects/the-...). (Note, this link does NOT work under Firefox browsers, for some unexplained reason. It works under IE and Chrome.)
What follows are excerpts from that interview, focusing specifically on abuses of Gitmo prisoners by doctors and other medical personnel. Be warned: Some of these descriptions are quite graphic and disturbing.
It is notable that this information only came out after the removal of the Bush Administration from Washington. And the fact that these events were taking place at all, being led by American medical professionals, says a lot about the utter lack of ethics in both the U.S. Army and the medical profession as a whole. If a doctor could engage in the sexual abuse and torture of another human being at Gitmo, what does that say about the lack of ethical training for doctors in general? How could a professional member of an industry that claims to "do no harm" engage in the outright torture and abuse of a patient placed under his care?
That these events took place while about half of all Americans continued to support Bush and Guantanamo Bay also says something else about the American people: Those who supported Gitmo were no different than the Nazi party members who claimed they didn't know the concentration camps were actually killing anyone. This cultural denial of the Nazi Germany era was eerily reflected in America's "War on Terror" and in television shows like 24, which sensationalize and justify the routine torture of human beings.
When I was writing about Guantanamo Bay in 2006 - 2008, I was heavily criticized by Bush defenders who insisted the U.S. never tortured anyone. All those Gitmo prisoners were really just "on vacation" at a holiday resort, they said! Free room and board, too! The ability of war fanatics to justify the abuse and torture of fellow human beings has never ceased to astonish me. I continue to believe that Bush Administration officials are guilty of war crimes and should be investigated, prosecuted and punished for their role in approving the use of such torture techniques in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.
With its actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, America can no longer claim any "moral high ground" on international conflicts. (Actually, the same has been true since the Vietnam War, but that's a different story...) As this testimony reveals, America is really a war mongering, imperialist nation full of violent military zealots who think nothing of human rights or international law. You see this bullying attitude in the military AND in law enforcement, too, where police brutality against unarmed citizens is routine in many cities.
But read this testimony yourself, and then ask yourself: Are these the actions of a free, upstanding nation fighting for "freedom" with God on its side?
The testimony of Brandon Neely
(Excerpts from the full testimony.) For the following testimony, the term "IRFed" refers to "Initial Response Force." This technique of prisoner abuse is described in gret detail by Chaplain James Yee in his book, "For God and Country. Faith and Patriotism Under Fire."
As James Yee describes "IRFing":
The worst punishment was something known as a forced cell extraction. The troopers called it IRFing, however, because it was carried out by a group of six to eight guards called the Initial Response Force […] Under the direction of a noncommissioned officer, they gathered quickly and put on riot protection gear—helmets with plastic face guards, heavy gloves like those a hockey goalie wears, shin guards, and a chest protector […] After they suited up, they formed a huddle and chanted in unison getting themselves pumped up. Then they rushed the block, one behind the other, where the offending detainee was […] The IRF team stopped at the detainee’s cell and lined up in single file outside it. The team leader in front drenched the prisoner with pepper spray and then opened the cell door. The others charged in and rushed the detainee with the shield as protection. The point was to get him to the ground as quickly as possible, with whatever means necessary -- shields, boots, or fists. It didn’t take long: no detainee was a match for eight men in riot gear. Three of the guards used the full force of their shields and bodies to hold the prisoner down. One tied the detainee’s wrists behind his back and then his ankles, using strong plastic ties rather than the standard metal cuffs. The guards then dragged the detainee from his cell and down the corridor. As he lay in a bruised heap on the floor, the guards stopped to catch their breath and drink water that the other guards brought for them. They then continued to drag the man to solitary confinement. When it was over, there was a certain excitement in the air. The guards were pumped, as if the center had broken through the defense to score the winning goal. They high-fived each other and slammed their chests together, like professional basketball players. I found it an odd victory celebration for eight men who took down one prisoner. I felt uncomfortable for the rest of the day. I wasn’t accustomed to seeing such an open and violent display of strength versus weakness.
Now, here is the testimony of Brandon Neely:
Were these IRFings filmed?
When an IRFing took place a camera was supposed to be present to capture the IRFing. Every time I witnessed an IRFing a camera was present, but one of two things would happen: (1) the camera would never be turned on, or (2) the camera would be on, but pointed straight at the ground. In the incident on Bravo Block I spoke about I found out through talking to people and hearing them joke that the video of the incident was destroyed.
Do you remember other IRFing incidents?
When new detainees arrived to the camp, a detainee on Alpha Block began to yell so loudly that you could hear him all over camp. Every time we would take a new detainee to Alpha Block he would get even louder. Eventually, the IRF team was called in to restrain this detainee. You could always tell when someone got IRFed, as the detainees throughout the camp would start chanting and screaming. So I could tell when the detainee on Alpha Block was IRFed that day. By the time the IRF team was coming off the block and I was walking back towards Alpha Block I noticed a couple of the guys had blood on their arms, hands, and uniforms. They were washing their hands with water. The detainee was escorted off the block to medical, where he was given stitches for multiple lacerations to his head. Later that day I came back on the block and saw the cage this detainee was IRFed in. The cement floor was a dull red color from the blood. You could tell at one point before it was washed out that there was a lot of blood on the floor of that cage.
How often did IRFings take place?
From what I recall, IRFings didn't happen all that often. Especially once the ICRC came to the camp. There were other IRFings, but nothing like these I have mentioned. These are probably the most brutal that I can remember from when I was there. But I am only talking about the times I was on camp grounds. I am sure IRFings happened on other shifts.
Anything you want to add about IRFings?
I don't believe the IRF team was used for the right reasons at all. At least the people on the team used it for the wrong reasons. It was their way to beat up on someone who was smaller and weaker than them. I have often wondered why you would need 5 healthy, grown men, in riot gear, to go take a down a detainee who was most likely underweight and very weak.
Continuing on the subject of physical abuse, there is a lot of testimony about shackles being placed needlessly tight. So much so that this might qualify as a form of binding torture. And shackling in such uncomfortable positions that this could count as positional torture…
I do know that shackles were put on very tight in some cases, really depending on who put them on. You are taught to leave enough room for a finger to go between the cuff and the part you cuff up. I know many detainees, when they arrived, were bleeding or had bruises from the handcuffs or leg shackles. And some could not even walk--the leg shackles were so tight. Yes: some soldiers did place the cuffs and leg shackles overly tight.
On the blocks detainees would be hog-tied for punishment and left that way for hours. Sometimes 2 hours, sometimes 4 hours, all depending on when they felt like releasing them from that position, as the call to release them came from the OIC.
What about medical abuse?
I know that detainees could not refuse medication or it would be forced upon them as I stated in previous incidents. The detainees knew they would be IRFed if they refused, so many of them just took the medications so they would not be IRFed. And I know this since I was told this many times from some of the detainees there.
I talked about the detainee who came to Camp X-Ray wounded from a .50 caliber. His bicep had attached to his forearm due to the fact his arm was in the sling for so long. I escorted this detainee to medical a couple times for physical therapy as he could not bend his arm down at all. On one occasion, when I escorted him there the medic began to massage the area that was attached and he keep rubbing harder and harder to the point the detainee started to cry and squirm all over the bed. The medic stopped massaging and started to stretch the detainee's arm down a little at a time. You could tell this was very painful and uncomfortable for him. The medic said "You really want to watch him scream." Then he stretched the arm all the way down until it was straight out on the bed. The detainee started screaming loud and crying. The medic finally put his arm back up and did it again. And then he said he was finished with the physical therapy. The whole time the medic just laughed at what he was doing. We then escorted the detainee back to his cage.
I witnessed the "physical therapy" sessions a couple of times, and never had it went the way I described it above. Usually they would just massage the area for a bit, then stretch the arm a little bit just to the point it got uncomfortable to him. But the medic that did this therapy was not the same one that I saw before.
Did you witness forced feedings?
I did not witness any forced feedings other than the one I described [see the Ensure incident]. But it was done especially during a hunger strike. After so many days they would be escorted to medical and fed through a tube or put on a IV. I know this from talking to people who would talk about it. And during a hunger strike the medics would always say if they don't [eat] after--30 days I believe it was--they would just force-feed them. I am not totally sure of the time frame for forced feedings, but I remember hearing 30 days somewhere in there.
Do you know of other forms of medical abuse? There is some testimony, for example, of abusive drugging of detainees.
I don't. At least that I witnessed. At Camp X-Ray we had a medical facility, but it was more a clinic than anything. If a detainee had anything serious, or surgery, they would be taken to the Hospital, and I never worked there as far as guarding detainees.
Did you witness sexual abuse?
The in-processing changed a bit, especially once Delta block was finished. The detainees were still taken off the bus and placed in the holding pin, but instead of walking way to the back of the camp, directly across the holding area was an open spot of the camp where a big tent was put up. And this became the new in-processing area. Now, when they were taken out of the holding area, the escort team would take them to this tent where they would go through the same in-processing, except now there was a doctor who would check their rectum area (we were told the rectal exam was to check for any kind of weapons that could be hidden there; we were told that, in Afghanistan, a grenade had been found in the rectum of a detainee).
So an escorting MP would pull the detainee's pants down and the doctor would instruct the detainee to lean over the table. Then, with a surgical glove on his hand, the doctor shoved his finger in the rectum of the detainee. Both times I witnessed this I never once saw any kind of lubrication used; they did not use the lube that was on the table to perform this. This exam was not done in any gentle manner whatsoever. It seemed to me that the doctor just reached back and shoved his finger as hard as he could in the rectum of the detainee. I witnessed this twice with my own eyes (at this time I was working blocks more). But I heard it talked about many times from other soldiers.
Even when I was not witness to these exams, but was still within earshot of the tent they were performed in, I could hear the detainees scream and cry out during the exam. I even remember one detainee coming out of the tent after this looking like he was in tears. I know through talking with other people who witnessed this that the doctor would make little smart comments before he did the exam like "this won't hurt; it will only take a minute," in a very sarcastic manner. And that sometimes the doctor would even be laughing.
Also, each detainee was searched when he left his cage and when he returned to his cage. In the process of searching or patting-down the detainee we were taught a technique which we called the "credit card swipe". You would take your hand put all your fingers straight together and go straight up the backside of a person. If this was done the correct way just a quick swipe it really was no big deal, but some people took it to the extreme, and would do it so hard--in effect just hitting the detainee in the private area to cause pain.
It is worth noting that there are Gitmo Deniers who claim all this testimony is fictitious, and that no torture ever took place at Gitmo, and that NaturalNews has invented all this (there is no such thing as the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, they insist). These people are as stupid as they come. Dumber than the Flat Earth Society, and yet more dangerous than Nazi party supporters. War-mongering zealots who would main, torture or kill another human being under the flag of "patriotism."
Make no mistake: We live in a dangerous world, and a good deal of that danger comes from fanatics who continue to operate in the U.S. military.
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