In response to the SALON article:
Guantánamo’s indelible legacy: how this became a Gitmo world
Eight ways in which the toxic policies of Guantánamo Bay have contaminated American institutions since 2002.
By Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel with research assistance from Julia Tedesco
Published January 24, 2020
Untrue, arbitrary, misleading and proof of Islamist apologists. Let’s take it one item at a time: 1) (Indefinite detention) Just because Carol Rosenberg, chief Islamist apologist, calls unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us, “forever prisoners,” doesn’t mean it’s true. Furthermore, “indefinite detention” is a MYTH. During WWII over 400,000 mostly German, lawful combatant POW’s were lawfully held without charge or trial “until the end of hostilities,” as per the Geneva Conventions and Law of War. Unlawful combatants, although not entitled to the protections of Geneva or Law of War, nonetheless were treated within the “spirit of Geneva,” due to the benevolence of the United States. Still, no indefinite detention. When hostilities end they may be repatriated unless accused of war crimes. Some might ask, when will we know when hostilities have ended? When all Islamists are either dead, or no longer have the will or means to kill us. And that’s pretty much up to them.
2) (A new legal language for the purpose of bypassing the law) Unlawful combatant detainees are called detainees because they did not earn the title of Prisoner of War, nor the rights and privileges thereof, because they did not follow the Geneva Conventions or Law of War in their hostilities toward the US and our allies. No “made up” language. Lawful and correct language based on FACTS.
3) (Legal cover) My deployment orders state, “In support of the Global War on Terror.” Because it’s a “Global War,” anywhere we find the enemy he can be killed or captured. Not by our choice, but by the choice of our enemies and the language of the AUMF.
4) (The sidelining and removal of professionals) You couldn’t be more wrong. It’s clear that we have a civilian led military. The President, as Commander in Chief, and the Secretary of Defense, both clearly in our chain of command; look at any wall in the HQ of any Army unit and you will see a line of photos, starting with the president and ending with the unit’s Command Sergeant Major. Knowing the chain of command is an inspectable piece of information that every soldier, from E-Private Snuffy to the commanding general is expected to know at all times. It was Donald Rumsfeld who told my boss, the Camp Commandant at Camp X-Ray while we were there, that we would treat all detainees “within the spirit of Geneva.” The command structure at the time, in early 2002, was two Joint Task Forces. One for incarceration, JTF 160, led by one-star (brigadier) general Lehnert of the US Marine Corps (Lehnert had been in charge of X-Ray back in the early 1990’s with the Cuban and Haitian boat crises). And a second JTF (170), with a two star (major) general, Dunleavy, in charge of intelligence and interrogations. The mission objective was to get as much critical information from the detainees as possible as quickly as possible in order to save lives, and then to keep the detainees safe, secure and healthy; the latter item being my area of responsibility. Not only were we all professionals, we had trained long and hard, and many in my brigade and detachment veterans of the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), where tens of thousands of uniformed, lawful combatant Iraqi soldiers surrendered en mass in a matter of days after the first shots were fired. My unit, the 455th Military Police Detachment (Brigade Liaison Detachment), 800th Military Police Brigade (EPW), formed the essence of the Joint Detainee Operations Group at Gitmo in early 2002, which oversaw the detention operations for JTF 160, the on-site command group. Below us was the incarceration Military Police Battalion, which provided the inside the wire guard force. Incredible soldiers, led by an incredible battalion commander, who worked 12-14 hours days, 7 days a week for over 6 months straight. To the side of us were the various support elements from all other military branches: Marines were the garrison and Camp X-Ray security force; Air Force provided in-flight medical and supplemental JTF 160 medical services (flight surgeons), and also air space security and transportation to and from Gitmo; Coast Guard provided supplemental port security and ground operational guard force, protecting ground access to Camp X-Ray and other classified areas, and Guard Force medical support; The Navy had port security (after all Gitmo is a US Naval Station), ferry service to and from Leeward (airport) to Windward side of the base, hospital and fleet hospital (think navy M*A*S*H unit) for detainee healthcare, environmental and preventive medical support, Seabee’s (“We build, we fight!”) support and other base services, including transportation, recreation, communication and housing, to name a few.
5) (The use of military for detention operations) Is legal and proper, but remember, the Reserves and National Guard hold almost all combat support and combat service support units in the military during peace time. You don’t need Enemy Prisoner of War (EPW) or many medical or transportation assets unless there is a war. So it takes TIME to train necessary regular unit types after the balloon goes up. Gitmo was used because of the prison riot in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. The Law of War dictates detention operations in the theater of operations UNLESS it is unsafe to do so. The prison riot proved it was too dangerous to keep detainees in a war zone; too much of a high value target for fratricide (enemy killing enemy), to stay in Afghanistan. My unit was one of the only EPW units in the Army, and the Army is the only branch that does EPW operations. Army military police who are not EPW trained are at least trained in military incarceration, but are not specialists. Just like a civilian police officer is not trained for full time corrections, they are familiar with incarcerating people. Marines were only perimeter guards and in the very early days some of the internal reaction and security inside the wire. The Army and Marines both worked the perimeter security, supplemented by the Coast Guard at check points. As things settled into a battle rhythm, the Army picked up the perimeter mission full time. Yes, things were put together quickly, and there may have been concerns, but inside the wire you had professional soldiers doing their jobs in all aspects of the mission better than any other force on earth. In fact, International Committee of the Red Cross physicians I worked with at Gitmo and later in Iraq, told me, “No one does [detention operations] better than the US.”
6) (Secrecy and the withholding of information) We hid things and kept secrets from the press because it was classified information essential for the safe, effective and secure operation of the mission. You only get to know what you need to know. I’ll never forget CNN correspondent Bob Franken threatening to “make it up” if we didn’t share classified information with him. We refused and so, almost on a daily bases, he filed FICTIONAL REPORTS. That’s right, pure FICTION! This is where I learned to loathe the MSM. The daily reports from Franked included things such as non-existent “riots” at Camp X-Ray, abuses, clandestine operations, complaints from the ICRC, and on and on. The kicker was when he insisted on knowing when we were going to move the detainees from the spartan Camp X-Ray to the new Camp Delta in the spring of 2002. He accused us of not letting him do his job. We accused him of trying to find out classified information to leak which would put the mission and those conducting it in unnecessary danger. We wouldn’t tell him, so he published a lie. We made sure the detainees were NOT moved when he said they were going to be moved, and instead of a two or three day operation, on the spur of the moment during the actual move, we decided to move them all on one day, a nearly 16 hour operation of continuous movement. Each detainee, nearly 300 of them, moved individually by two MP’s, one at a time, from their cells to a bus to their new cell. I observed every single transfer. Most of them thought they were being taken to be executed. Why? Because that’s what they would have done with us.
7) (Disregard for international law and treaties) As for international law and treaties, NONE of them were written to protect unlawful combatants. In fact, all of the detainees could have been lawfully shot dead on the battlefield. The Geneva Conventions nor the Law of War applied to them, virtually all of them technically clandestine operatives, spies, mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, etc. not a one of them a lawful combatant entitled to the rights and privileges of a lawful combatant POW. They were all lucky to be alive. 731 of the nearly 800 detainees were eventually RELEASED, and NONE of them beheaded, executed, blown up, hacked to death, dragged naked and lifeless through the streets, drowned or burned alive. All things our enemies have done to us and/or our allies. They were all treated with dignity and respect and under the spirit of Geneva, as per Mr. Rumsfeld’s directive. They received FREE Qurans, prayer rugs/beads, directions to Mecca, time and space to pray, white robes, beards, halal and special holy Muslim holiday meals, featuring baklava and lamb, services of US military Muslim chaplains, world class health, dental and vision care, library, correspondence, TV, DVDs, video games, entertainment, recreation and sports. Club Gitmo indeed. All this and still guards would be sucker punched, spat on, and doused with Gitmo Cocktails – bodily fluids of detainees “splashed” onto them unawares. Unlawful combatant detainees earned no rights or privileges under any international law or policy. As for torture, there was none at Gitmo. And only a handful of detainees were waterboarded which provided valuable information which saved many lives. Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) were NOT torture, and were legal and approved when used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and only by trained CIA operatives. No DoD personnel were ever trained on EIT and never performed EIT.
8) (Lack of accountability) As for accountability, no other country on earth treats its detainees or prisoners even half as good as the US does. We were as transparent as possible, even to the point where Don Rumsfeld wrote later in his autobiography, “Known and Unknown,” that he regrets the level of transparency shown the press at Gitmo. The early photographs exploited, mislabeled, misunderstood, misconstrued and mystified the place and the fine people who work there. Possibly one of the most emotionally challenging military missions, Gitmo presented myriad difficulties that some could not handle. In the end, Gitmo is a small but essential piece to the big puzzle of how we win the Global War on Terror. It is legal, ethical and moral. In fact, there is no moral comparison between Gitmo and how our enemies treat their captives. The Islamist equivalent to Gitmo is a PILE OF HEADS. Let that sink in. Sincerely, Major Montgomery J. Granger, US Army, Retired. Former ranking US Army Medical Department officer with the Joint Detainee Operations Group, Joint task Force 160, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Author: Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior.