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Gottinger writes: "To make sense of what a Trump presidency means for the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Reader Supported News spoke with former US Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, who worked as a guard at Guantanamo."

Guard tower at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)
Guard tower at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)

Former Guantanamo Guard: If Trump Fills Gitmo Back Up, It Will Create Blowback Against the US

By Paul Gottinger, Reader Supported News

30 November 16


s a candidate, Trump made a long list of outrageous promises, but many political observers have been skeptical about his desire and ability to transform promises to policies. However, Trump continues to fill his administration with what can only be called extremists, who may actually carry out his dark vision for America.

A number of Trump’s campaign promises had to do with the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Despite the wide scale documentation of torture, lack of due process, and other abuses of basic rights for detainees, Guantanamo remains open. Trump has vowed to expand the number of prisoners held there. Counterterrorism officials say nothing legally bars Trump from expanding the prison’s population if he orders new prisoners be sent there. Trump has even said he’d be in favor of trying American citizens in military tribunals at Guantanamo if they were accused of terrorism.

To make sense of what a Trump presidency means for the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Reader Supported News spoke with former US Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, who worked as a guard at Guantanamo. He became a whistleblower when he discovered that the CIA had murdered three Guantanamo detainees and then covered it up. His book Murder at Camp Delta details his experiences at Guantanamo and his investigation into the murders.

RSN: Can you talk about Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo?

JH: One of Obama’s first promises upon taking office was that he’d close Guantanamo within a year. Eight years later it isn’t done. He failed. People can make excuses for him, but he failed to deliver on his promise to the American people and to the world. To me, it doesn’t really matter why he didn’t do it. He failed, period.

If Trump decides to keep Guantanamo open and fill it again, it’s going to be worse than what we’re already seen from the Bush administration. The whole world has protested Guantanamo. Every time ISIS kills somebody they put them in an orange jumpsuit. That’s a statement on Guantanamo. Guantanamo is the opposite of what the US is supposed to stand for.

RSN: What are your thoughts on Trump’s promises to expand the population of prisoners at Guantanamo?

JH: I think it’s shameful that Trump, who campaigned on being the “law and order candidate,” wants to continue something that is completely lawless and has no order. He’s completely contradicting himself. He’s just showing how little he knows about Guantanamo and international law.

RSN: Trump has said he wants to fill up Guantanamo with “some bad dudes.” Does the prison at Guantanamo make Americans safer?

JH: Guantanamo breeds terrorism. Many of the people detained at Guantanamo were innocent, and yet they were held for years. That has an effect. But more than that, the US government has demonized Muslims to the core. They should be seen as a major anti-terror asset. They should be seen as our allies. The demonization makes people who can help us really hesitant to help. Trump is proposing even more demonization. That will only create blowback.

RSN: According to the ACLU, 94% of all detainees ever held at Guantanamo have been released or cleared for release, meaning they didn’t pose a threat. Can you talk about why the US has such a poor record of capturing and holding actual terrorists at Guantanamo?

JH: Most of the detainees held at Guantanamo were sold to the US on a bounty. You could tell that a lot of these people were confused as to why they were even there. Most of them were poor farmers. The majority of them were picked up in Afghanistan, which is very tribal. So one tribe would turn in another tribe’s leaders under a US bounty, and the US wouldn’t even question it. They’d just pay the bounty and take these people. It was a very failed process to hunt al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that failed system created the population at Guantanamo.

RSN: I want to talk about something, which is an overlooked aspect of the Guantanamo story. The CIA was engaging in human experimentation there. The facility was not just a prison, but a place to test cruel forms of interrogation.

JH: After the first year, they started experimenting with interrogations. The commander at the time, Geoffrey D. Miller, labeled Guantanamo “America’s Battle Lab.” General Miller had no experience in military intelligence or interrogation, but he was pushed by the Bush administration to experiment on humans to create an effective interrogation program. He eventually moved from there to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. A lot of their ideas came from the MKUltra program. They were using drugs and harsh physical techniques to try to get people to talk.

[MKUltra was a human experimentation program the CIA conducted in the 1950s and 1960s to develop new forms of interrogation. The program has been deemed by many to be experimentations into mind control.]

We were experimenting with programs that the North Koreans used on captured American soldiers during the Korean War. We took the playbook from those guys on these experiments. The Defense Intelligence Agency even admits it.

Eventually, we started giving detainees a drug called Mefloquine. Every detainee that was ever held at Guantanamo received this drug. It’s an anti-malarial drug. The prescribed dosage is 250mg, but we gave them five times the prescribed dosage within 24 hours after they arrived in Guantanamo. Mefloquine is a drug in the quinine family. It’s a hallucinogen.

The CIA used this drug in the MKUltra program, and what they wanted to do was to instill fear in their subject. It’s very similar to LSD when you give high doses. People can say “well it’s an anti-malarial drug.” The problem is none of the detainees that came to Guantanamo had malaria and there’s no malaria in Cuba. As a soldier I never received Mefloquine, and no contractors ever received it either. So there’s absolutely no reason to give it to detainees, especially at such high doses, except for use in experimentation.

RSN: The US military used Mefloquine in the past, right?

JH: Yes, when soldiers would go to areas where malaria was a threat, they would be given the proscribed dosages, but they stopped because the side-effects these soldiers were having were so awful. The drug was even blamed for several deaths.

RSN: I want to finish with Trump’s pledge to re-start waterboarding. You recently completed a book with CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou on Abu Zubaydah. The Bush administration waterboarded Zubaydah at least 83 times. Can you discuss the effectiveness of waterboarding and some of the specifics of Abu Zubaydah’s case?

JH: The Senate Select Committee’s report on torture found that none of the harsh interrogation worked. The techniques like waterboarding and anal rehydration all failed. They don’t work at all. People will tell you what you want to hear if you torture them. It’s common sense. They only way to effectively interrogate someone is with rapport-building. It has been proven effective. But harsh techniques just don’t work.

After being tortured, Zubaydah was giving names of people he said he was in contact with, but they ended up being the names of actors in the 1920s and 1930s. He was just trying to make it stop.

The Bush administration described Zubaydah as the number three guy in al Qaeda, and some people in the US government still claim he was, but the fact is he was never al Qaeda. He was a mujahedeen who fought against the communist government in Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew. Zubaydah is not a good guy, but he’s not nearly the person the US government describes.

RSN: Do you think there would there be any resistance if Trump ordered the CIA or US military to waterboard?

JH: I think some would resist, but many would obey the orders because of the fear of getting in trouble. Look at John Kiriakou, all he did was expose the fact that the US was waterboarding and he went to jail for two years. If you disobey a direct order, you’re facing criminal time. Anything can happen to you, you’re taking a huge risk.

Paul Gottinger is a staff reporter at RSN whose work focuses on the Middle East and the arms industry. He can be reached on Twitter @paulgottinger or via email.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+13 # Anonymot 2016-11-30 18:38
Good interview. The CIA wins.
+21 # jdd 2016-11-30 20:05
Ever wonder why Obama didn't fill up Gitmo? Drones, every week drones. He didn't bother with arrests, he simply assassinated 4-10,000 "terrorists," including at least 2 US citizens. And created many thousands more. The Nobel Peace Prize winner.
+12 # Stilldreamin1 2016-11-30 18:53
Excellent, harrowing book- Murder at Camp Delta. Also Guantanamo Diary by the innocent inmate from North Africa.
+18 # dyannne 2016-11-30 19:11
Humans are the scourge of the planet.
+22 # Indie 2016-11-30 19:25
This is the country we have become? Or has part of our country always been like this?
+18 # economagic 2016-11-30 20:27
A little of both, I think. What "we" did to the Africans and the indigenous peoples for more than four centuries was at times every bit as horrendous as what "we" did to prisoners at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. But there are also many reasons to believe that civil society is becoming increasingly less civil.
+7 # Texas Aggie 2016-11-30 22:32
Look at what we did in Viet Nam. My Lai was the norm. Look what we did in Central America under Reagan. Killing nuns and priests and peasants was just the part that got into the press. We were doing even worse when Africa was shaking off the colonial powers. And then check out the record of the FBI during J Edgar's regime. It was disgusting.

We've always been this bad, but now it is becoming routine. Before they knew they had to hide it. Now they don't care.
+4 # jwb110 2016-12-01 10:42
Quoting Indie:
This is the country we have become? Or has part of our country always been like this?

Part of the country has always been like this. A larger part than I am comfortable with.
+11 # Jaax88 2016-11-30 19:55
Someone should make a score card on all of the promises trump has made during his campaign and then determine:
1. if he has outright backed down completely and reneged so he will not keep his promise;
2. modified his promise so it will not be completely fulfilled;
3. changed the promise so it has no meaning any longer.

The next step would be to evaluate who would be injured by trump failure to keep his promises or change of mind and who would be help.

Finally, determine why trump made his changes of mind or reneged.
+14 # economagic 2016-11-30 20:29
Gary Trudeau did a panel way back in the spring with a dozen or more issues that the orange one had already been on both sides of.
+18 # ReconFire 2016-11-30 19:58
A small part of our country has always been like this.

The false flag event 9/11 "unleashed the hounds".

When JFK was killed, Pres. Truman knew he had screwed-up allowing the CIA to exist after WW2.

Now they own us.
+8 # Adoregon 2016-11-30 21:27
You can't be a global douche without generating massive resentment.

Unfortunately massive resentment metastasizes into myriad individuals willing to give up their own life in order to inflict harm on the global douche that casually inflicts harm on them.
-12 # Tigre1 2016-11-30 23:23
Can I take this space to say that I am for the use of Guantanamo, for certain types of 'bad actors'. I agree that the buying prisoners by the services was wrong, and stupid as well.
Nevertheless, while agreeing that there should never be torture performed in America's name, I want to say that I DON'T WANT MUSLIM POWS IN US PRISONS WITH AMERICAN MALEFACTORS. Period. It's a recipe for disaster. We kept home-grown Muslims with black prisoners...sor ry. guys, but you know it's true...and the Muslims converted many, who were troublesome later.

Such will happen again, and these are supposed to have actually served on a battlefield, and are bona fide dangerous.
Do you want them training American legal prisoners for after their release? You really MUST understand how committed these guys can be.
+2 # PCPrincess 2016-12-02 16:38
What about being Muslim makes them more dangerous than a U.S. citizen prisoner?
+5 # lfeuille 2016-12-01 00:53
If we get out of the ME they will redirect their commitment elsewhere. They hate us for a reason. We keep reinforcing the reason.
+7 # janie1893 2016-12-01 02:23
Return Gitmo (with the prisoners still there) to Cuba as a Christmas present. Our problem solved, the Cubans want it back and they will treat the prisoners far better than we have.
+3 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 02:32

The powers-that-be don't care about blowback. The more of it the better to keep the enemies coming and the endless war OF terrorism going. They want blowback. It's good for business. Obscene profiteering as never before, no matter how many millions of innocent people have to suffer and die in the process. They care about human life about as much as the life of ants. So, they WANT to provoke more blowback.

Guantanamo's a boon for blowback, so they probably will fill it back up with more innocent, and/or unprosecutable because they don't have any reliable evidence, people who they will torture as the U.S. government becomes more unconscionably ugly, monstrous and hypocritical with each passing day. Creating the interminable enemies is now the name of the game, no matter how they have to create them and keep them coming. Anything to "justify" and create the pretexts for continuing the endless war OF terrorism.

(Continued below)
+1 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 03:41

We are run by globalist totalitarian corporate-fasci st monsters now, likely long have been, but now they're hiding it less and less, manifesting it transparently more and more, and pulling out all the stops now as they bring their plan for global domination and empire to its completion. Where before they mass-murdered millions of innocent people, they will then mass-murder billions; or at least that's their goal. But whether God, who is a lot more powerful than they are, will allow it, is another story altogether; and, chances are, He won't. Please, dear God, in Jesus the Christ's name, stop them!

+3 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 03:59

To more specifically respond to the article/intervi ew, they went after Abu Zubaydah's American-citize n brother, who is a quite-well-accl imated American living in the U.S. (see the archived articles and interviews on regarding the subject), and convinced even him that his brother was this awful, evil terrorist. I wrote him in the comments section of one of the above-reference d articles that his brother probably wasn't anywhere near as hateful as the lying FBI made him out to be, that he shouldn't believe them anymore, and that he should give his brother a chance and believe that his brother is probably far more innocent than he was led to believe by the terrorist U.S. government.

As this former Guantanamo guard alludes to and indirectly makes clear, no one can trust almost anything the U.S. government and military, and their mainstream media propaganda arm, says. So, stop swallowing any of it "hook, line and s(uc)ker", American people! They intentionally, fraudulently made the prisoners in Guantanamo look as evil as possible, all to sell continuing the endless war OF terrorism, to keep Gitmo open, and to keep the American people supporting it all, including torture. And, as this former Gitmo guard did directly make clear, it was all or mostly a sham. But what did most of the American people do, they ate it up like it was the best ice cream in the universe.

(Continued below)
+3 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 04:01

As the founders of the U.S. said, we've got to distrust our government, and stop falling for any of their lies and tyranny.

+2 # jwb110 2016-12-01 10:44
The President didn't close Gitmo because that can only be done by the Congress. That said, he hardly lobbied hard to get it done.
+1 # librarian1984 2016-12-01 14:32
Human experimentation?!

I thought I was depressed reading about the rain forest. This sickens me to the core. I wish I believed in hell. There are people I would like to see rotting there.

We pretend to be better than animals but THIS is what we bend our brains and hearts and resources to?

The CIA has GOT to be destroyed. They have damaged this country more than any 'enemy' ever dreamed of doing. There is no human institution more evil, more disgusting or more worthy of extinction.

I am no one. But for once in my life I feel a genuine wish for power, so that I could devote myself to taking down the CIA. Everything they do, everything they touch, is rotten and dead and wrong.

They are traitorous to the US but more, they are the worst humanity can conjure up, wrapping themselves in secrecy because no decent human being would let them continue to exist.

How can it be that we have no mechanism to stop things like this being done in our name?
0 # librarian1984 2016-12-01 15:29
Okay, I just finished the article. I had to do it in two instalments.

One thing we might know is that the FBI hates the CIA. I remember stories about the FBI leaving the field because they wouldn't go along with CIA techniques.

We also know that at least a contingent of the FBI are big Trump supporters.

Can we use the FBI to destroy the CIA?
0 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 23:17

Believe me, despite their so-called "differences" (which are no doubt all, or primarily, nothing but show), the FBI is just as evil as the CIA, and the former now work "legally" abroad as well as the CIA does. They, and all of the foremost federal government agencies, are for U.S. "totaliterroriz ing" and "totalitarianiz ation" (I love making up new words; though, with me, neither of these terms are new), and U.S., Western and global enslavement under the "Fourth Reich", Orwellian corporate-fasci st globalists.

Thus, as much as I would of course love to see it, "al CIAduh(!)" will never be destroyed short of the relatively-soon return of Jesus the Christ Himself; and it is a pipedream that they will ever be dissolved short of that. Also, if you devoted your life to destroying them, you would very likely end up dead. Even talking that way can get you visited by "Homeland '(In)Security'" for carrying out "perceived threatening conduct" in violation of the "U.S.A. 'P.A.T.R.I.O.T. ' Act".

(Continued below)
+1 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 23:18

[I know this because I was visited by them almost eleven years ago for a false claim of threatening a federal employee (something I would NEVER do), though I was never arrested or legally charged with anything, just illegally "served" an unconstitutiona l, extra-judicial, illegal restraining order with no true due process appeal procedure(s)--- and, besides, I saw the writing on the wall that if I had tried to pursue the matter, I would have been further falsely accused of 'additional' "perceived threatening conduct".]

You see, almost everything is now considered "perceived threatening conduct". If you speak the truth as you and I and many others here do, that is seen as "perceived threatening conduct" by the presently-const ituted U.S. (corporate-fasc ist) government. If you protest anything they do, no matter how evil, that is considered by them to be "perceived threatening conduct". If you try to do what's right and get ANY of their corrupt agencies and/or their corruption(s) done away with, as far as they're concerned you're "guilty" of "perceived threatening conduct".

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2016-12-01 23:18

They have completely installed the fascism and "sown it up", and they are now increasingly coming after innocent people like you and me; and, very soon, they will be pulling out all of the stops and coming after us as never before, "disappearing" us, locking us up in indefinite detention with no true due process of law, no informing our loved ones what happened to us or where we are, and likely without release until the "end" of the neverending war OF terrorism, all under the unconstitutiona l, extra-legal 2001-2002 "Authorization for Use of Military Force" (AUMF) and "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012" (NDAA), et al.

0 # librarian1984 2016-12-02 01:35
I think the FBI is bad, yes, but the CIA is worse. If we want to destroy them, and I really really do, another intelligence agency would be a lot more successful than, say, you and me :-)

I do not think the FBI is good by any means, but they could be useful.
0 # John S. Browne 2016-12-02 22:03

My comment from another thread, because it is pertinent to this discussion:

Nice wish that Trump end up in prison, but he will NEVER see prison. Do you know of a single nominated U.S. president who has gone to prison? No, you don't, and it will never be allowed to happen, period. Were that I was wrong. One doesn't get to be a billionaire without being a criminal; and, once such scum as "T-Rump" become president, they're protected for life, including their future crimes. Hell, if they want to have sex with children, the Secret Service helps protect them in that pursuit. The Secret Service has helped, and no doubt still helps, both male and female underage prostitutes get into the White House. The FBI has been involved, and undoubtedly is still involved, in child trafficking, and many other evils, both in the U.S. and globally.

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2016-12-02 22:04

We have an extremely evil government now, and they protect their own. All those who literally sell their souls to evil for furthering the "Fourth Reich" corporate-fasci st agenda, and their global world domination and enslave- ment under globalism, which they must do or they would be assassinated (or not be allowed into the office of president in the first place), are reward- ed for life. They get away with literal murder while serving as president, and they could get away with literal murder after leaving office. They are ALL the ultimate scum, and if you think "Odrona" is any exception, you are still a fool and living in dreamland. Welcome to evil government ever- increasingly on steroids. It is only going to get worse and worse, and that is NOT pessimism, it is just a fact.

+2 # futhark 2016-12-02 23:27
Blowback is exactly what the Deep State wants. Every terrorist attack justifies a continuation or escalation of military action. More bullets, more bombs, more all adds up to more profits for those who manufacture and market these items. The military-indust rial complex is possibly the biggest single component of the American economy. It is what we do. Without keeping it healthy, think of the jobs that would be lost! Ask Wolf Blitzer.

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