Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bush's War on Truth and Human Rights

Erik Saar, a former translator at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has written a book detailing the torture and cover-ups of the Pentagon in the war on terror titled Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier's Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo.

You can read Paul Harris' review for the Guardian Unlimited and Amazon's book description.

Democracy Now has an interview with Erik Saar.

Selected quote:

AMY GOODMAN: Erik Saar, [were] the words Geneva Conventions ever used at Guantanamo?

ERIK SAAR: One time, ma’am, I can say, when we were talked to regarding the Geneva Conventions, and there was a meeting that I describe where our leaders of the intelligence group explained to us that the Geneva Convention does not apply at Guantanamo Bay....[This was confusing because] all your training is under the umbrella of the Geneva Convention, and you are told that you never violate the Geneva Conventions as an interrogator, because – for two reasons: Number one, it's illegal; and number two, they're taught that it's ineffective. And if you need to use tactics outside of the scope of the Geneva Conventions, you are going to get bad intelligence anyway. But somehow, no one quite understood how it was determined that now those rules don't need to apply. Plus there's limited, if no training, for how these new rules should be implemented in the interrogation booth, and what is the rationale for why previously, I was taught as an interrogator or one of my colleagues was taught, that these techniques wouldn't work, but now we're saying that maybe they will?

AMY GOODMAN: Did you ever have fights with other soldiers there over your feelings about what was happening?

ERIK SAAR: No, ma'am, I didn't. And to be honest with you, the conclusions that I drew was really a process for me. I mean, there were things that frustrated me along the way that I saw, but it's not as though during week three of my time at Guantanamo Bay I came to the conclusion that, wow, this is a terrible place and we should never be doing this, because there was also that internal battle of me saying, look, maybe -- I was saying to myself, maybe this is what's necessary in the war on terrorism. Maybe these are the steps that we need to take to protect ourselves. And it wasn't until the end of my time there that I really reached the conclusions that I drew that it's not necessary, and the techniques are ineffective, and it's not in keeping with who we are.

AMY GOODMAN: Erik Saar, do you think that the abuse was creating terrorists?

ERIK SAAR: I think, Amy, that what I witnessed at Guantanamo Bay was, on a practical level, counterproductive in the war on terrorism. Because, in fact, as we go throughout the Arab and Muslim world and say that we're going to promote values of democracy and justice and human dignity, but at the same time defy those very same values in Guantanamo Bay, I do think in the long run, it could produce more terrorists. |Link| (emphasis added)

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