CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Pentagon said Friday that it will investigate a
Marine's sworn statement that guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating
detainees and that they described it as common practice.
A detainee is escorted by military
police at Camp 4 of the maximum security prison Camp Delta at Guantanamo
Bay Naval Base in this 2004 file photo in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Marine, a paralegal who was at the U.S. Navy station in Cuba last month,
alleges that several guards she talked to at the base club admitted routinely
"From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a
common practice," the sergeant wrote. "Everyone in the group laughed at the
others' stories of beating detainees."
The woman's name was blacked out of a copy of a two-page affidavit provided
to The Associated Press by a civilian defense attorney working with Lt. Col.
Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the Western United States
and based at Camp Pendleton.
Vokey, who sent the statement Wednesday to the Inspector General at the
Department of Defense, called for an investigation, saying the abuse alleged in
the affidavit "is offensive and violates United States and international law."
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler said defense officials "are
reviewing this affidavit and will investigate these allegations fully." A call
to the inspector general's office was not immediately returned
Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, spokesman for the Joint Task Force that oversees
detention facilities at Guantanamo, said the force "will participate fully with
the inspector general to learn the facts of the matter and will take action
where misconduct is discovered."
"Abuse or harassment of detainees in any form is not condoned or tolerated,"
Guantanamo Bay houses about 450 suspected members of al-Qaida and the
Taliban. Human-rights groups have roundly criticized the Bush administration for
detaining most without criminal charges, but U.S. officials have defended the
detentions as necessary in the war on terrorism and say the detainees are
The Marine said in the sworn statement that she has been working at Marine
Corps Base, Camp Pendleton in Southern California on a Guantanamo-related case,
and was in Guantanamo from Sept. 20-27.
She said some Marines had invited her to the base club Sept. 23. She didn't
see them but a group of at least 15 sailors invited her to join them. She said
she spoke with the sailors for about an hour, during which she had one drink,
and that the sailors did not appear drunk.
A 19-year-old sailor referred to only as Bo "told the other guards and me
about him beating different detainees being held in the prison," the statement
"One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee by the head and
hitting the detainee's head into the cell door. Bo said that his actions were
known by others," the statement said. The sailor said he was never punished.
Other guards "also told their own stories of abuse towards the detainees"
that included hitting them, denying them water and "removing privileges for no
"About 5 others in the group admitted hitting detainees" and that included
"punching in the face," the affidavit said.
Guantanamo was internationally condemned shortly after it opened more than
four years ago when pictures captured prisoners kneeling, shackled and being
herded into wire cages. That was followed by reports of prisoner abuse,
heavy-handed interrogations, hunger strikes and suicides.
Military investigators said in July 2005 they confirmed abusive and degrading
treatment of a suspected terrorist at Guantanamo Bay that included forcing him
to wear a bra, dance with another man and behave like a dog.
However, the chief investigator, Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, said
"no torture occurred" during the interrogation of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi
who was captured in December 2001 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan