On Maddow Tomorrow: Gitmo Guard Describes Humiliation, Abuse of Prisoners


neely150.jpgTomorrow night at about 9:30 pm EST, Rachel Maddow will air an interview on her MSNBC show that she has done with former Guantanamo guard Army Pvt. Brandon Neely about his experiences with prisoners at the Cuba-based detention facility.
From an unfortunately not too shocking Associated Press report:

Army Pvt. Brandon Neely was scared when he took Guantanamo’s first shackled detainees off a bus. Told to expect vicious terrorists, he grabbed a trembling, elderly detainee and ground his face into the cement — the first of a range of humiliations he says he participated in and witnessed as the prison was opening for business.

This reminds me of some of the important interviews that Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney secured in his film Taxi to the Dark Side. I did an interview with one of the Bagram prison guards, Damien Corsetti (excuse the darkness of the video clip), and one of the FBI interrogators Jack Cloonan on the subject of abuse, humiliation and torture.

Very powerful clip — and I’m sure that Rachel Maddow’s engagement with this young soldier will hit some of the same notes.
What is clear from Gibney’s interviews and many others who have commented is the degree to which higher echelons of authority seemed to want to give the guards no formal guidance on what they should and should not do.
It’s really outrageous that young guards are the ones confessing when the blame really rests with many much further up in command.
— Steve Clemons


20 comments on “On Maddow Tomorrow: Gitmo Guard Describes Humiliation, Abuse of Prisoners

  1. DonS says:

    The notion of American exceptionalism has be a major focus at times on TWN, and its clearly integral to the argument for “torture” being acceptable in certain circumstances to protect “out way of life”. It seems like there is interest growing in this subject, and it will no doubt be revisited by TWN. More importantly, one hope the Obama team gets’s the message and quits triangulating the issue and learns to speak straight and stand straight.
    Glen Greenwald frames criminal investigations of Bushies in terms of “exceptionalism”: “There is simply no way to argue that our leaders should be immunized from criminal investigations for torture and other war crimes without believing that (a) the U.S. is and should be immune from the principles we’ve long demanded other nations obey and (b) we are free to ignore our treaty obligations any time it suits us.
    Pelosi makes noises like she favors prosecutions – exactly for what she doesn’t say – but likely related to GWOT.


  2. ... says:

    donS – my theory is this: the financial world is experiencing turbulence of large magnitude and it is bound to reshape international relations.. the one between britain and the usa looks unstable at present and i don’t see it getting any better in short term..
    ” A flurry of letters between the British Foreign Office and the US State Department has revealed that Washington did threaten to withdraw intelligence-sharing with Britain if documents related to the alleged torture of a British terrorism detainee in Guantanamo Bay were made public.
    The High Court in London said on Wednesday the Foreign Office had refused to allow the torture documents to be revealed because of a “threat” from Washington to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.
    The US warning, related to the case of British detainee Binyam Mohamed, was promptly denied by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who insisted that there had been no threat from the US to “break off intelligence co-operation”.
    i think obama owes the american people and those subjected to torture more then an obstruction of justice, which is what his staff seem to be providing at this point… he needs to assume responsibility for this and fire someone, or articulate that he is aware of this and is taking a different attitude towards torture… it doesn’t look good presently…


  3. DonS says:

    …, what I think the article says is that now that a British MP has raised a stink, and a “full investigation” called for, more information may dribble out, from the British side.
    The sooner Obama clears the decks and alerts all of his senior staff, including SOS Clinton, that continued maintenance of Bush era deception, procedure and policy will not be tolerated the less will he be saddled with these ugly consequences.
    Obama can mouth what he likes about not harming “the institution of the presidency”, and the need to maintain some secrecy. However, the syllogism is compelling: Bush/Cheney were dogs on civil liberties; erring on the side of secrecy instead of sunshine associates Obama with dogs. Check your instincts Barak. More that a PR campaign is needed.
    As to the financial linkage you cite, I am not so well versed, but can easily imagine that following the money pays off, as usual.


  4. ... says:

    dons – i see you linked bmaz article from emptywheel in your 12:48pm.. i found that article particularly insightful and disturbing… as i see it the relationship between the us and britian is primarily monetary – boe to fed reserve, which in turn is supported politically in all it’s corruption.. that is the history of the federal reserve though in the boe’s continued attempt to get a firm foothold in the usa which they did with the help of people like morgan way back in the early 1900’s….


  5. DonS says:

    More, more, and more on terror, civil liberties, and cover up by Obama vs getting it right:
    From Emptywheel: “Why does President Obama Hate The Truth On Binyan Mohamed?” ” . . . On both cases Obama threw his lot in with the secrecy and torture crowd.” Some really interesting background on complicity between Brits and US, including Obama.
    From Think Progress: ” . . . a new article about how the Obama administration will confront the legal challenges of Bush’s war on terror, former Attorney General John Ashcroft defends the continued detention of a terror suspect, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri . . . Ashcroft told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer that the only difference between Obama and Bush on detainee policy will likely be how they spell their names”
    (with link to Jane Mayer article and appearnce on Rachel Maddow just before the Neely interview)


  6. DonS says:

    I am moved to follow up on the ongoing muddle over the effort to get Rove in front of Conyers’ committee.
    It will be important to keep track of the whole Bush administration bundle of activities that violated law and civil rights, especially if it is the Obama administration’s effort, in effect, just to wish the whole thing away (per the assertion of Jonathan Turley, noted legal scholar, among many others).
    The idea of having Rove willingly now testify before Congress is hardly credible. Questions abound: there would be some grant of immunity; would it be immunity for testimony only, or would it be transactional immunity baring later prosecution on evidence from independent sources? It’s hard to imagine Rove’s attorneys would not have sought to cut out and limit areas of testimony. Who really believes that Rove will say anything so incriminating, of himself or Bush/Cheney, that the scope of inquiry, hashed out in the ground rules for testimony, will not cover. (and of course, one presumes the testimony would be public).
    It requires total naïveté to imagine Rove will throw Bush under the bus. The ONLY way to get information out of Rove will be via the threat of legal prosecution/incarceration, and then I wouldn’t assume that Rove would not choose to go to jail.
    I can only second those smarter than me who caution that the protection of our nation of laws requires that the legal process be used to the full to expose the damage and ongoing danger to the country that is done by covering up the Bush administration. Obama needs to think long and hard about the precedents he would be endorsing by finding neat nuances to avoid the unpleasant work to lancing the boil and undoing Bush’s constitutional excesses. Obama’s feet canot be held too closely to the fire here: excuses of damage to the presidency, or necessary secrecy, need to be rigorously questioned and opposed.
    Congress must do what is necessary, even in the face of the President’s resistence and even, or especially, in the light of their own flagging reputation.


  7. DonS says:

    Here’s another brick in the Bush administration stonewall relating tothe supression of and internal DOJ report that Mukasey himself initiated. Johnathan Turley is right on the case and will not let these scumbags off, and he is similarly critical of the Obama administration failure to lay down clear markers in any but easy, early actions to kick the can, remaining obscure on pursuing the trail of probable war crimes:
    “The controversy, however, should serve to remind citizens that the Obama Administration has still not taken any action on widespread allegations of war crimes. There is clearly an effort to outlast any public interest in such an investigation. Delay will also serve to allow some statute of limitations to run — giving the Administration an excuse not to prosecute on some collateral crimes. However, there are no statutes of limitations for war crimes and the failure of the Administration to act is itself a violation of our obligations under these treaties.”
    I highlight the Greenwald comment in the above post where he says that those skeptical of Obama’s posture are not bieng improperly impatient for more action; they are shocked at the assertive and damaging action Obama has already signaled.


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I found Neely’s “disclosures” quite tepid, and lacking the kind of shock value required to awaken the American people to the attrocities that are being committed in our name. In fact, Neely’s “revelations” were so anti-climactic, that these slimey pieces of shit like Hannity or Limbaugh have just been handed a “so what?” strategy for their justifications.
    “The poor old boy had facial abrasions. I’ve hurt myself worse falling off my bicycle.”
    Meanwhile, history dulls events, and we lose touch with the very real evidence of horrendous crimes against humanity, committed under our flag. Who remembers the press reports, early on, of Afghans being herded into metal storage containers, which were subsequently locked, aphyxiating the prisoners to death in sweltering heat? Or the razing of Fallujah? Or the deadly effect of tons of DU dust that has been unleashed into the Iraqi environment?
    Did anyone notice the uncanny resemblence in demeanor and appearance that Neely had to Lindy England? I have long suspected that the prison guards, both at Abu Ghraib, and at Gitmo, were psychologically profiled; malleability, an unquestioning subservience to authority, and a propensity to bow before peer pressure being the desired profile.
    Neely, rather than underscore the real depravities that have been committed in our name, only dished up a lukewarm diversion. Could it have been by design? Could it have been to offer minor physical abuses to the historians, in an attempt to dull the import and gravity of what we have actually done?
    Thats my bet.


  9. CanuckStuckinMuck says:

    The blame, and ultimately the shame for the facile persistence of
    the so-called debate on torture, rests at the feet of every one of us
    who thinks torture is a good idea. This is not to say that they must
    think it’s a good idea for eliciting actionable intelligence, but
    rather, a good idea because it carries with it the satisfaction of
    revenge for the acts of others not detained, revenge for its own
    sake, regardless of the victim or their culpability.


  10. DonS says:

    Greenwald “. . . on Obama’s embrace of Bush/Cheney ‘terrorism policies’ ”


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    An excerpt…….
    Then-Sen. Obama descried the Bush-Cheney invocation of executive privilege to prevent former White House officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers from even responding to congressional subpoenas for testimony about the firings of nine United States attorneys. That extravagant and unprecedented claim would have enabled President Nixon to muzzle his Watergate nemesis, former White House counsel John Dean, from testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee about Oval Office conversations implicating the president in obstruction of justice. Mr. Obama, however, is now hedging over whether to defend Mr. Rove’s non-responsiveness to a new congressional subpoena.
    President Obama has left undisturbed the bulwark of other Bush-Cheney usurpations or constitutional excesses: the Military Commissions Act of 2006; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, which eviscerates the Fourth Amendment; the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq concluded by Bush-Cheney as an executive agreement (despite its placement of U.S. troops under foreign command) to evade Senate scrutiny as a treaty requiring a two-thirds majority; and, President Bush’s hundreds of signing statements.
    If the American people and Congress do not wake up from their Obama infatuation, presidential powers will soon be indistinguishable from King George III’s that provoked the 1776 Declaration of Independence.


  12. DonS says:

    POA, thanks for the Raw Story link which also links WAPO:
    “The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened,” Craig said in a statement yesterday. “But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency.
    I find this whole schtick of not wanting to “weaken the institution of the presisdency” incredible pablum, actually cynical and dismissive of what the Bush “presidency” has done to this country under the guise of “security”.
    Obama may finesse these issues in the minds of most people, but if he fails to address, substantively, behaviors and policies much worse than Nixon, his patina of wimpishness will turn out to have been true, at best.
    It will be possibly left up to federal criminal prosecutions to blow the lid off the Bush corruption, and go around Obama’s half stepping. (i.e., the Connecticut case looking into the attorney firings is so far on track). That might be a window into the DOJ and the WH. That is if Obama doesn’t order Holder to pull the plug on the prosecution to protect the institution of the presidency.


  13. TonyForesta says:

    What happens on the battle field is unimaginable. Only those who have known, tasted, smelled, heard, and fealth the horrors of combat can possibly imagine the decision making process of the that environment. What happens on the battle field, stays on the battle field.
    That said, it is exceedingly disturbing to be party to the depravities, perversions, and pathologically homoerotic practices of the bushgov operators and apologists in the socalled “enhanced interrogations” policies or what Azmodeus – I mean cheney more accurately frames as the “dark side”.
    America spends 600bn tax payers dollars on socalled defenses, (warmaking operations) and another 60bn in blackworld projects. Are wingnust expecting me to believe that the worlds hypersuperior military industrial complex must restort to midievil practices and methods used by the Inquistion? Can’t we do better. Are there not other more advanced techniques for gleaning actionable intelligence? Is their no majik dust we can spray on our prisoners? Why do we have to resort Jackass techniques and models, (playing with other guys asses) to secure America.
    There is something fundamentally preverted, wierd and just wrong with the bushgov’s erototorture techniques. Does it work? Is the information obtained, actionable or useful? Is this perverted and primitive approach workable in the 21st Century, against 4th generation threats?
    Answering any of these questions cuts to the heart of the bushgov perverted and freakish approach to gleaning actionable intelligence.
    The answer is clear. How can America claim any high ground when we ourselves operate in the lowest levels of human depravity. This policy effectively undermines America’s ability to condemn torture practices of our opponents, and for example beheadings, or throwing acid in the face of young Afghani girls walking to school, or Saudi or Iranian or Iraqi or Afghanin woman listening to music or exposing their elbows in public. We are no better, and no worse than our enemies, so the battle is lost. We have stooped to and sanctioned the depths of depravity, so the battle is lost. We are no different than our enemies, and so we must examine what is right and what is wrong. What differentiates us, from our enemies?
    I double dare anyone here to answer that question.


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama, not Bush, now seeking delay of Rove deposition
    John Byrne
    Published: Tuesday February 17, 2009
    Former Bush Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove has a new president urging Congress not to force him to testify next week.
    President Barack Obama.
    In a court brief quietly filed Monday, Michael Hertz, Obama’s acting assistant attorney general, said it was necessary to delay an effort to force Rove to be deposed in a congressional investigation into the firing of nine US Attorneys and the alleged political prosecution of a former Alabama governor.
    Hertz said an effort was underway to find a “compromise” for Rove, and requested two weeks to broker a deal before proceeding in court.
    “The inauguration of a new president has altered the dynamics of this case and created new opportunities for compromise rather than litigation,” Hertz wrote in the brief released late Monday by McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau. “At the same time, there is now an additional interested party — the former president — whose views should be considered.”
    With each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that Obama is just a posturing fraud, and cannot be trusted. To you Obama staffers reading this blog, tell the posturing piece of crap that some of us are paying attention, and spreading the word.
    By the way, you people are cowards for not addressing the concerns many of us have about Obama’s cowardly waffling about holding Bush administration felons accountable to the law. We can only assume that Obama and Holder intend to screw us over, and ignore the law, just like the last criminal in the White House, and his felonious AG, did.


  15. jose says:

    Every war waged by the United States over the past century has been accompanied by provocations orchestrated by the US government to stampede public opinion and give a “defensive” cover to military aggression. The pattern is well-established, from the campaign over the explosion of the battleship Maine, which ushered in the US war against Spain in 1898, to the Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnam) and the Racak massacre, the pretext for US intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Nobody wants to start a war with a more powerful nation so the United States created reasons for invading others.
    real estate


  16. questions says:

    A link to a report on the health mess in Zimbabwe.
    Thanks for the reply, and for not chasing me off for off-topicness….


  17. steve clemons says:

    questions — interesting stuff you have posted on Zimbabwe, but
    my plate is full at the moment. I used to post open comments
    times on the blog — but few took advantage of it, and no interest
    in just leaving unused space or perches…


  18. questions says:

    Hey Steve,
    Totally off topic — but any chance of doing some posting on Zimbabwe? Just heard Jerome McDonald on Worldview discussing resistant TB, resistant AIDS, cholera, anthrax, a complete lack of health care of any sort for most people — women in need of c-sections die, heart attacks kill, everything kills. There’s no there there anymore it would seem. And the infectious stuff really doesn’t recognize national borders….
    A lot of this site is given over to the ME but Africa needs attention too. This kind of poverty and dislocation is geostrategically just as risky as is anything in the ME. Massive destabilization anywhere harms us everywhere. And the health issues remind us that those lacking health care anywhere in the world can infect even the richest among us.
    (You should maybe toss in an open topic comment section here and there? Not that I would ever tell anyone how to run his own website!)


  19. ... says:

    some of the high ideals that obama ‘supposedly’ represented have not been carried thru in real terms… the state secrets defense is one glaring example…


  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Bush III: Obama on Torture & Wiretapping
    Written by Thomas R. Eddlem
    Sunday, 15 February 2009 06:26
    Just as President Bush publicly and repeatedly stated that “this nation does not torture,” but then secretly engaged in torture, President Obama’s public rhetoric against torture is increasingly at odds with his decisons to defend John Yoo (the former Justice Department official who authored the “torture memo” justifying Bush administration policy), keep in place policies that have protected torture, and even keep in office Bush-era appointees who helped establish torture policies.
    Obama made a public spectacle of signing the executive orders banning torture and closing Guantanamo within a year. Flanked by a dozen former generals, the public show contrasted with Obama’s quiet signing of an order overturning the “Mexico City policy” banning the funding of abortion providers abroad with U.S. foreign aid funds.
    But for the second time in a week, the Obama administration maintained the “state secrets” defense the Bush administration used to shield torturers and other illegal activities from court scrutiny. This time the “state secrets” gambit protected warrantless (i.e., unconstitutional) wiretapping of terrorist suspects in San Francisco U.S. District Court on February 11.


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