June 3, 2004

Don't even ask about satellite TV

Abu Ghraib quote of the day: "The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house!"

[via Oinkment]

By the way, I've been wondering why this story hasn't gotten wider play: "The Army confirmed Tuesday that a former military police officer was injured while posing as a prisoner during a training session at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last year."

Here's his account:

Equipped with riot gear and shields, teams are trained to burst into cells and subdue unruly prisoners. They routinely train to learn how to subdue with the minimum amount of force, Arellano said.

Baker recalled meeting a lieutenant from the Michigan unit. Baker said the officer instructed him to shed his top and don the orange scrubs worn by detainees. The lieutenant said they were going to make the training "a little more realistic," Baker recalled.

During similar exercises, Baker said, his unit always practiced with a soldier in a regular uniform and treated the volunteer appropriately.

"He said, 'You'll be fine. Trust me. Nothing's going to happen,'" Baker said. He put the orange outfit on, but kept his boots on. He then entered the isolation cell and lay under the bed facing the wall.

To the team, it was no drill

Inside the dark cell, he said, an interpreter spoke to him in Urdu and Pashtu. He heard a dog barking and the team outside the door. In English, the interpreter groaned, "Man, they're coming. They're going to (bust) you up."

Baker said he later learned the team didn't know it was a drill.

He said the team dragged him from under the bunk and twisted his legs, and one put his knee into Baker's back. But they struggled to put leg irons on him. He said a guard grabbed his neck and choked him.

Baker said he twisted his head and shouted the safe word -- "Red!" -- that was supposed to end the training.

But a guard slammed his head, he said. After Baker groaned, "I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier," another guard yelled for them to ease up. They pulled Baker up and the orange pants fell, exposing his military-issued trousers underneath.

Yesterday, Ron England, who recently retired as first sergeant from the 438th Military Police Company, told the AP that the 303rd company lieutenant who ran the drill did not know Baker was an American soldier playing a detainee.

He said the soldiers involved "wanted to do it right" but might have gone too far. "They just exerted too much force and he was resisting. They're thinking this was the real thing."

Baker said he made it back to his unit at another part of the base, where he wrote out his statement and sought medical attention.

Arellano said a February 2003 investigation into the injury concluded that it was a "foreseeable consequence" of the drill, and no soldiers were disciplined.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


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