But having been a reader at Patterico for awhile, he trusts him to tell the real story.
Stashiu is, of course, a pseudonym, but it's not just an internet pseudonym: it's the name he used at Gitmo, to protect his identity. Stashiu says that if he ever encounters any of the detainees on the outside, he'll take the guy out, because if he does run into one of them on the outside, chances are it's not an accident--the guy's out to kill him.
He worked at Gitmo for 6 months as a psychological counselor. He was not involved in interrogation, but with helping them cope with the stress of incarceration, etc.
"Stashiu’s title was Division Officer for Behavioral Health Services, which meant he spent hours talking to terrorists about what makes them tick."
Most of them spoke some English, and some were quite fluent. When they asked for a translator, "Sometimes it is to try and pry information from the interpreter. Other times it is to avoid answering an uncomfortable question, for whatever reason. Plus, any time they go through an interpreter, they can claim that they were misunderstood due to faulty translation."
What are the terrorists like? "For many of them, think Ted Bundy. Educated, charming, and without conscience for those they consider infidels. Some are truly ill and were taken advantage of because of it. For example, one routinely asked us for an explosive suicide vest so he could assassinate Osama Bin Laden or George Bush for us, whoever he could find first (he was completely serious)."
Were they guilty or innocent? "I didn’t see any that I believe were totally innocent, although it wasn’t my call and it really didn’t matter to their care.... There were a few detainees there who weren’t actually fighting against the Coalition, but they were fighting their own government and would have been executed if we returned them there. Since we are not allowed to ship someone where we have reason to believe they would face torture or death, they are stuck at GTMO until we can find a country to accept them without killing them. But they were combatants of some sort."
Most of the terrorists are well-versed in the Manchester Document, which is the Al Qaeda training document that tells prisoners to "avoid revealing information at all costs, don’t give your real name and claim that you were mistreated or tortured during your detention."
They are all fighting against the US "due to religious zeal and hatred of Americans."
And here's the kicker:
In my opinion, most of them are sincere in their belief they will win for the following reasons:
a. They are told they are assured of victory by their religion. They are raised with the belief that Islam is destined to become the dominant way of life for this planet. No matter how long it takes, it is inevitable. Once Islam is supreme, there will be no war, crime, poverty, or need. These are frequent talking points every Friday in the mosques.
b. Their leaders consistently stress that jihad is working and our culture is a hollow shell. They point to VietNam, Somalia, 9/11, Madrid (both the bombings and the elections immediately following), and the anti-war propagandists here in the United States. . . . The jihadists are constantly told that America is weak-willed and will turn and run if they can be inflicted with enough damage and peace can be delayed long enough.
c. They believe they are more committed to victory at any cost because it is all in God’s name and is the Will of God. They point to our efforts at minimizing both our own casualties and those of civilians. You never see them worry about collateral damage and destroying infrastructure. They see our compassion as weakness and our integrity as blindness to reality.
This part addresses the hunger strikes and suicide attempts. Of the hunger strikes, the guards were told that no one was to be allowed to die of hunger. "The talk of ‘garden hoses inserted as feeding tubes without lubricant’ and such are all bunk. The Dobhoff tubes used were around the thickness of the little straw you’d get with your milk in elementary school, made of a rubbery material, and always inserted with lubrication."
Of the concessions that the US made to the prisoners:
Many of the detainees also made good-faith efforts to improve things, but I believe that any concessions were hijacked by the extremists and used against everyone else’s efforts. For example, the lights being dimmed, extra bedding, etc....were all used to facilitate the successful suicides. But, before those changes had not been at least tried, the extremists escalated the rhetoric against us saying, “See? They will not do anything to make things better!”
...[T]here were competing objectives among the detainees. Simply, we were in a Catch-22. If concessions were made, one group would say that they could get even more by continuing to cause problems. If concessions weren’t made, the reasoning was that they just weren’t applying enough pressure. There is a hardcore group of AQ there that will try to turn everything they can to their advantage. They circulate untrue stories of torture, poisoned food, desecrated Korans, and many other things. This keeps the tensions high and then they find a way to light the match.
On the suicides? The US tried everything it could to prevent them, but the detainees were determined to carry them out, not from despair, but for propaganda purposes.
The rotation that replaced us was a fine group and would have done everything they could to protect the detainees. I believe the detainees just timed things to take advantage of the new rotation before they had learned all the tricks. The detainees tried when we came in and we had a very sharp learning curve. I believe that the timing of the attempted suicides, the attack on the guard force with the staged suicide, and the successful suicides [were] not an accident.
I believe that those men were ordered to die after months of planning. They knew when new personnel came in and waited until everything could come together. If the personnel rotation had happened a month or two later, I’m certain the suicides would have been a month or two later as well. It was one of the factors they waited for because our rotation was aware of most of their ruses.
Most of the detainees are not truly mentally ill. There are about 16-17% with an Axis I type disorder (biochemical), which is about the same rate as in stateside prisons. Most of the rest of them have an Axis II type disorder (environmental), involving usually Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. [No surprise there. --ed.]
About the treatment of the detainees by military personnel:
"There were occasions when a guard lost his cool and overstepped... every one I heard about resulted in a courts-martial or other punishment, but there weren’t that many overall (maybe 4 or 5)."
"Consider that flinging “cocktails” of urine, feces, saliva, sperm, vomitus, and combinations thereof was threatened daily by detainees and performed several times each week. Also, verbal abuse from detainees was very common.... This was in addition to physical assaults on guards with everything from shanks, kicks, elbows, and a variety of rather clever makeshift weapons."
"We were told about one female medic who had to have major reconstructive surgery on her face following a detainee assault. She was too close to the beanhole (door opening) and the detainee was able to reach out, grab her head, and pull her face-first into the steel frame of the door, shattering most of the facial bone structure."
Stashiu was not aware of any incidents of abuse except for the ones mentioned above. None. The detainees often said that Gitmo was worse when the Army was in charge, but now that the Navy is running the place, it's better.
They get better medical treatment than US soldiers in the field. Full dental and medical on demand. [That's better than I get. --ed.]
No one touches the Korans except for the prisoners themselves, special librarians, or other Muslims. The guards take pains not to touch them.
"The only Korans I saw, or even heard about, being placed in toilets, torn, or thrown onto the tier were done by detainees.... but these were by individuals without complete control of their behavior, such as a psychotic episode. Heard about two Korans in toilets by the same type of detainee prior to being admitted for psychiatric restabilization. We were very careful about Korans because of the previous media reports, even though they had been discredited."
And about media coverage of Gitmo? Any inaccuracies?
"I believe the biggest one is obviously the alleged torture and abuse. If anything, we were hypersensitive to even giving the appearance of abuse and this was taken advantage of time and time again."
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
For some, they eagerly await days until “reservation” (interrogation) and there are frequently requests to see their interrogator. This is why I said that some fear to return home or they would be killed as traitors. They get to smoke (sometimes 4 or 5 packs at once, uggh!), watch new-release DVDs that have been screened by Intel so they don’t get current events, eat pizza or fast-food, listen to music, smoke a hooka, etc.... The better stuff they give up, the more the interrogators get for them. All of this has been previously released to the public, but you never hear about it in the MSM.
As for Mozzam Begg's accounts of his imprisonments, wherein he says he never encountered soccer fields, libraries, etc.
There was a volleyball court, a basketball court, and a soccer field… all available to detainees who were at the appropriate level in camp. If they were compliant, they were moved to Camp IV (the same one where the fake suicide attempt was used to lure guards into the feces-smeared floor [so the detainees could] assault them).
This was an open area where they had full use of these things, along with ping-pong tables, board games, and a running track (pretty nice one). None of this was for use by guards or other staff, only detainees. Again, all of this has been released to the media but you don’t hear about it.
The library had books in every language spoken by detainees and was for detainees only, but some languages had a limited selection. The library staff would go out to the blocks to checkout books and get books being returned. I don’t know if detainees were ever allowed to go to the library, but it’s possible. I did a lot of work with the library because we used recreational reading as therapy tools.
"I would emphasize that, by doctrine, the jihadis are told to: claim innocence; kidnapping; payment of bounties; abuse of all types; and a history of doing humanitarian work such as preaching, teaching children, building schools, etc… The usual monetary figure is a $5000 “bounty” (their word to me) from guys captured in Pakistan, but I heard that from detainees that I knew for a fact were lying through their teeth. While I can’t say if all of those claims were false, I just don’t know of any that were definitely true."
Do detainees have any access to the outside world?
No TV, radio, or newspapers. Some of the rumors were remarkably accurate as to current events, so they did have some sources of information. I suspected much came from ICRC and defense attorney visits, or [was] possibly overheard from our own personnel, as did many of the people I worked with. Some rumors were hilariously outrageous, but we would not confirm or deny anything they told us, even though we laughed our butts off later. The “news” that Bush had been assassinated brought great joy to the detainees in camp on more than one occasion, although I’m pretty sure that one wasn’t accurate.
The saddest part about this interview is that no one will believe it except those who are not already convinced by the lies that have been told about Gitmo. The outrageous, overheated, hysterical lies, Big Lies, even, that, being repeated so often are then believed to be true. Because everyone says so.