Monday, June 20, 2005

Senator Durbin Should Not Apologize

I am appalled at all the little-dog-yapping going on about Senator Durbin's recent speech on the Senate floor. Just about everyone who has looked into the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have concluded that the conditions for and treatment of detainees there are atrocious and clear violations of international human rights law.

We're not talking about a few bad apples here: it appears that these violations are standard operating procedure. The military is actually training the guards to behave abominably. One of those training sessions went awry, and one soldier had to be medically retired after the beating he took at the hands of those guards:

A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.

Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

The description of the beating is chilling:

The drill took place in a prison isolation wing reserved for suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were disruptive or had attacked MPs.
Baker said he put on the jumpsuit and squeezed under a prison bunk after being told by a lieutenant that he would be portraying an unruly detainee. He said he was assured that MPs conducting the "extraction drill" knew it was a training exercise and that Baker was an American soldier.

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, "red," and shouted: "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

The MPs were clearly out of control, and as a result of his beating, Baker was discharged with a "medical retirement." To make matters even worse,

The Pentagon initially said that Baker's hospitalization following the training incident was not related to the beating. Later, officials conceded that he was treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas.

And the horrible punch line to this awful story?

"While it is unfortunate that Spc. Baker was injured, the standards of professionalism we expect of our soldiers mandate that our training be as realistic as possible," the spokesman said. [emphasis added]

What was that you said, Senator Frist?


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