Did Gitmo "Suicides" Cover Up Murder? U.S. Sgt. Speaks Out on Deaths & Prison's Secret CIA Site

January 15, 2015
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

Guests

Joseph Hickman

former U.S. Army staff sergeant. He was stationed in Guantánamo Bay from March 2006 to March 2007. He is a senior fellow at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Policy and Research. His book, Murder at Camp Delta, has just been published.

Mark Denbeaux

professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and the director of its Center for Policy and Research. He is a co-author of the new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."

In a month marking its 13th anniversary, we look at one of the great mysteries of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay: What happened the night of June 9, 2006, when three prisoners died? The Pentagon said the three — Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi — all committed suicide. But were they actually tortured to death at a secret CIA black site at the base? In a broadcast exclusive, we are joined by Joseph Hickman, a Guantánamo staff sergeant and author of the new book, "Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay." We are also joined by Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, which has just published the new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thirteen years ago this month, the United States opened its notorious prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At its peak, nearly 800 men were held there. Today the prison population has dipped to 122. On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced five more prisoners, all of them Yemeni, would be released. Four of the men were transferred to Oman and the fifth to Estonia.

Today we’re going to look at one of the great mysteries of Guantánamo: What happened on the night of June 9th, 2006, when three prisoners died there? Authorities at Guantánamo said the three men—Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi—all committed suicide. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, described their deaths as, quote, "an act of asymmetrical warfare."

REAR ADMIRAL HARRY HARRIS: They are smart. They are creative. They are committed. Have no regard for life, neither ours, nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us.

AMY GOODMAN: But many questions about the night remain unanswered. Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Scott Horton first raised questions about what happened on that night in a 2010 piece he wrote called "The Guantánamo 'Suicides.'" For the piece, Horton won a National Magazine Award for Reporting. He appeared on Democracy Now! at the time, questioning the findings of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, or NCIS, which investigated the deaths.

SCOTT HORTON: We were able to see how they had concluded the suicides occurred. And they state that these three prisoners bound their feet, bound their hands with cloth, stuffed cloth down their throats, in some cases, at least, put masks over their faces to hold the cloth in place, fashioned mannequins of themselves to put in their beds to deceive the guards, put up cloth to obstruct the view of cameras, fashioned a noose which they attached at the top of an eight-foot wire wall, stepped up as their hands and feet are bound and they’re gagging on cloth, stepped up on top of a wash basin, put their head through the noose, tightened it, and jumped off—and moreover, that these prisoners, in non-adjacent cells, did all of these things absolutely simultaneously, in a clockwork-like fashion. So the story is just simply incredible and simply not believable, I should stress.

AMY GOODMAN: That was reporter and attorney Scott Horton speaking in 2010.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Horton went on to reveal the three men who died may have been interrogated that night at a secret CIA black site facility at Guantánamo known as Camp No, or Penny Lane. Horton based his reporting on Guantánamo in part on testimony from a whistleblower, Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, who was on guard that night at Camp Delta. Hickman has spent most of his life in the military. He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal while he was stationed with the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion in Guantánamo Bay. He was praised for dealing with a prison revolt in May 2006 when, by his own estimation, he became the first U.S. soldier to give the order to fire on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

AMY GOODMAN: Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman has just published a book about the deaths. It’s titled Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay. Since leaving the military, Joseph Hickman began working as an independent researcher for the Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research. He’s joining us from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And we’re joined here in New York by the director of the center, Seton Hall professor Mark Denbeaux. The center has just published a new report titled "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."

Joseph Hickman, thanks so much for being with us. Can you talk about that night, the night of June 9th, 2006? Talk about what you saw.

JOSEPH HICKMAN: On June 9th, I was what was called "sergeant of the guard." I was in charge of many different places in Guantánamo, different posts that were being manned by other soldiers. And one of my posts that I was in charge of was the towers in Camp Delta. So, I went to visit the guards that were manning those posts, and I went up to the tower.

And when I was up there, I saw a vehicle, a van—we called it the "paddy wagon"—pull into Camp Delta and back up to the entrance of Camp One. From there, I saw the driver get out, and his assistant, go to Alpha Block, take a detainee out of Alpha Block and put him in the paddy wagon. They then drove off, left Camp Delta, made a quick right and then a left that headed down the road out of the camps, out of Camp America, which Camp America housed the camps at the time.

About 20 minutes later, the paddy wagon came back, and it repeated the same thing. It backed up to Camp One. The two people in the paddy wagon went to Alpha Block, grabbed another detainee, put him in there and went the same route. At this time I started to get suspicious, wondering where he was going.

So, 20 minutes later, they came back a third time. This time, when they backed up to One, I knew they were getting another detainee, but I wanted to see where that paddy wagon was going exactly, so I left and went to the entrance in Camp America, which is called ACP Roosevelt, Auto Control Point Roosevelt. And when the van finally did pass that checkpoint, if it went straight, it was going to the main base. But a hundred meters past the checkpoint, it made a left, which meant it was going to either two places. You could only go to two places in 2006 at that time: You could go to the beach, or you could go to a place that we called, as soldiers there, Camp No.

AMY GOODMAN: No, as in N-O.

JOSEPH HICKMAN: As in No. As in, no, it’s not there, and, no, it does not exist.

AMY GOODMAN: A black site.

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What did you know about the site when you first came across it that night on June 9th, 2006?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: I knew a little bit about it beforehand. We didn’t know—we didn’t know much at all at the time. We discovered it while we were on a mobile patrol one day, when we stopped to take a break, me and a couple other soldiers. I’ll actually never forget the day, because when we stopped, it was hot. We just wanted to take a break and find some shade under some brush. And when we did stop, we noticed a fence in concertina wire, so we got close to it to see what was there, me and another soldier that was in the Humvee with me at the time. And when we went up to the fence, we could actually see the buildings of Camp No. And they were—they looked exactly like a detainee facility, like Camp Echo or Camp—it was constructed the same way. So we knew—we just knew it was a detainee facility. It was a KBR building, it looked like. And I just remember the guy I was with, the guard I was with, he just said, "You know what we just found?" And I said, "What do you think it is?" And he said, "We just found our Auschwitz." And I’ll never forget that day, and I’ll never forget when he said that.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What gave him the impression? Why did he say Auschwitz?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, it was obvious to us it was a detainee holding facility that was completely off the books.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about what happened later that night, Joseph Hickman. Now we’re talking about, I guess, June 10th. It was the night of June 9th. What happened to those three prisoners you saw uncharacteristically in metal handcuffs, is that right, when they were taken away, as opposed to plastic cuffs?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, they were handcuffed. The one thing that I noticed—after I saw them leave the camps, the rest of the night went pretty quiet, until around 11:30 when the paddy wagon returned. But instead of going to Camp One, it went to the detainee medical clinic. And it backed up to the detainee medical clinic entrance and opened its back doors, where I didn’t have a visual after they opened the back doors because I couldn’t see through them, and it appeared they were loading something into the medical clinic.

About just 15, 20 minutes later, at the most, all the lights come on, and sirens are going off. It’s complete panic in the camps. And I didn’t know what was going on, but I went down, and I saw a corpsman. I had left the tower and saw a corpsman standing in front of the medical clinic. It was a corpsman that I knew. So I went up to her, and I asked her, "Hey, what’s going on?" And she said, "Three detainees killed themselves. They stuffed rags down their throats." So, right there, a few minutes later—I’m not sure how many minutes later—but I saw Colonel Bumgarner, and he told me, "We’re going to have a meeting right after work at 0700 at the theater. I want everybody there. Everybody you have on duty, I want them there."

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And so far as you’re aware, Joseph Hickman, how long was Camp No in operation? And what happened to the facility after these three men died?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, personally, all I can tell you is it was open in—it was there from March 2006 to March 2007. I don’t know how often they had detainees there or how often it was manned, but I know from—I would say, from when we discovered it sometime in April to June, when I saw them go to Camp No, it was operational then. Later on, other people have reported that it was open. It closed sometime in 2006.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, Sergeant Hickman, what happened at that meeting that you were all called to attend?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, Colonel Bumgarner—everybody was there that was on duty that night. Colonel Bumgarner got in front of everyone, and he said, "Three detainees committed suicide last night. They shoved rags down their throats. But you’re going to hear something different on the media—from the media." And he said, "You are not to speak to anyone at home. You are not to speak to—you’re not to write letters about this. Remember, we are monitoring you. NSA is monitoring you." And he gave us a direct order not to speak about the suicides.

AMY GOODMAN: There were four reporters on the base at the time?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: There was reporters on the base. They were told to leave the base immediately. They weren’t allowed to stick around after the deaths.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you start to ask questions right away?

AMY GOODMAN: I started to ask questions the next day, when I saw Admiral Harris on CNN. I mean, right away it was suspicious with Colonel Bumgarner. But when Admiral Harris got on the news, when I was—I was sitting in the chow hall watching CNN, and Admiral Harris called it "asymmetrical warfare" and said they hung themselves. I knew right away that no one hung themselves in Camp One. It was completely impossible, from my standpoint, from the guards under me that were serving in that area. No one saw any detainees transferred from Camp One to the medical clinic. It just did not happen.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what did you do?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I waited. I waited because I knew that there was going to be an investigation. I knew NCIS was investigating the deaths. So, I waited for them to come interview me, and I would tell them what I saw. And that day never came. NCIS never interviewed the guards that were in the towers in the area or the sally port guards that were literally 25 meters away, at most, from the medical clinic. They never interviewed any of us.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We’re talking to Joseph Hickman, former Army staff sergeant stationed at Guantánamo from March 2006 to March 2007. His book, Murder at Camp Delta, has just been published. This is his first broadcast interview. We’ll be back in a moment.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guests are Joseph Hickman, former Army staff sergeant stationed at Guantánamo for a year beginning in March of 2006. He has just published a new book; it’s called Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay. We’re also joined by Mark Denbeaux, professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and the director of its Center for Policy and Research, co-author of a new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab."

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Mark Denbeaux, you have worked on this issue of what happened that night of June 9th, 2006, in Guantánamo for many years. You have also worked with Joseph Hickman on this. And your research center has just come out with a new report called "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab." Could you lay out what you find in this report?

MARK DENBEAUX: Yeah. Well, our investigation over this period of time first found that the NCIS report could not have been a credible, legitimate process. So our next question was—and we published something on that called "Death at Camp Delta." The next question was: How could it have been so incompetent? It was one thing, as a student said, to imagine people who killed people would want to cover it up, but why would investigative bodies cover up deaths? And we did our second report, was called "Uncovering the Cover Ups," which came out last summer.

But the real question still was: What’s the motive? And it turns out that the motive that we found, which was before the Senate report came out, was quite clear that the general in charge of the camp had been placed there by the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in February of 2002, the general who thought he was in charge of the camp, a General Baccus, who was an MP, who was applying the Geneva—a general in charge of detention, an MP. And he—as the general in charge of detention, he was applying the Geneva Conventions. He was removed, and General Dunleavy replaced him, followed by General Miller. General Dunleavy has, under oath, said that he got his marching orders directly from the president of the United States, requiring him to meet in person once a week with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. And General Dunleavy and his successor General Miller have both repeatedly characterized Guantánamo as America’s battle lab.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what does that mean?

MARK DENBEAUX: Well, the best thing that we’ve been able to figure out when we started looking—that phrase caught everybody’s attention. And so, the first thing that we looked into was: What were the experiments there? And we were able to find and discover some of the laboratory experiments were there, including giving them drugs that would cause psychotic breaks for up to 30 days, as soon as they arrived, and a variety of other things that were given to them over a long period of time.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Which had never been used in any other context before.

MARK DENBEAUX: The drug they used, they claimed, was to help with malaria. However, there is no malaria in Guantánamo, there is no malaria in Cuba, and every person who was brought there had already had a medical examination in Afghanistan and was proven to have no contagious diseases. So, it was a psychotic, really, inducing drug, which had been used for a considerable period of time by other sources in order to break down the state of mind of the people in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Denbeaux, you’re saying that this camp was used to experiment on people.

MARK DENBEAUX: Yes. That’s what General Dunleavy referred to when he referred to it as America’s battle lab. That’s what General Miller was referring to when he described Guantánamo as America’s battle lab. And he was Dunleavy’s successor. The only question was: What were the experiments? And, of course, the question became fairly clear once we discovered this giving of these psychotic-inducing drugs they gave them the minute people arrived.

AMY GOODMAN: So, go back to that night of June 9th, 2006—

MARK DENBEAUX: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —into June 10th.

MARK DENBEAUX: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: We have just heard Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman describe what he saw as the prisoners were taken away. What did you come to understand?

MARK DENBEAUX: Well, he contacted us, three days after President Obama was inaugurated, with a—describing something that seemed implausible. It was simply counterintuitive to imagine that these people had died as he reported them. And we spent two days interviewing him, and we were still somewhat skeptical.

And our students then took the NCIS report that had come out, which was 1,700 pages of jumbled, redacted doctrines, and went through it. And it took them three months to go through it. And they would make little discoveries that would sort of support Joseph’s position. One was, they all had rigor mortis when they came in the clinic. Well, how could you have rigor mortis if you’re hanging in a cell being watched by five guards, and there are 24 people being watched by five guards, and they were supposed to see them every three minutes? Once they found that, the students sort of began to peel layers away.

They discovered the only guards who had ever reported that the detainees were dead hanging in their cells, prior to making that statement, had been formally advised they had their Miranda rights, they had made false statements prior to that, and that if they—they had a right to counsel and a right to remain silent. Instead, they repeated the story that Admiral Harris had said four days earlier. One of my students said, "Why would you have every one of the witnesses to the event have to have a formal Miranda warning documented?" They had to sign. And another student said, "Well, if they’ve made false statements to NCIS before that, where are the false statements in the file?" And when nobody could find those false statements, it just led to information piling up after piling up.

And I think that—we used to joke. We had a student named Kelly, and if—Kelly was from Kansas. And our view was, if Kelly would buy a hostile negative conclusion, then it had to be true. And Kelly ended up concluding that they didn’t hang themselves in their cells, and if they didn’t, they couldn’t be suicide. And so, Kelly from Kansas ended up convincing everybody on the group that we had to at least go so far as to say the NCIS investigation was not credible. And then she ended up coming up with the title called "Death in Camp Delta." Nobody wanted to call it murder, because we didn’t know, but nobody could believe it was suicide. So, their compromise, trying to be careful, was "Death in Camp Delta." We brought that to Scott Horton, with Joe Hickman. And Scott then went further and took the entire investigation and did his—the first report.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, so when Scott Horton’s Harper’s piece first appeared, called "The Guantánamo 'Suicides,'"—it was published in January 2010—it came under some criticism. The piece was of course based in large part on Joseph Hickman’s testimony. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service said in response to the piece, quote, "According to the Harper’s article, Sergeant Hickman was stationed on the exterior perimeter of the Camp, including Tower 1, the night of the detainees’ deaths. From this location, he had no visibility into the cellblock and cells where the deaths occurred, a fact confirmed by FBI and DOJ investigators who were specifically tasked to look into Sergeant Hickman’s allegations. NCIS conducted over 100 interviews during the first three days of the investigation, including interviews with all the guards who worked in the cellblock that day and all the detainees who were housed there. None of those interviewed told of any detainees being taken away or alleged homicide." Joseph Hickman, could you respond to that criticism of what they say you were able to witness or see then, that night, June 9th, 2006?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Sure. One thing the NCIS—ordinary response, they told, at best, a half-truth about where I was and what I was—what my duties were. Yes, I did have responsibilities on the perimeter of Camp Delta, but I also had responsibilities inside Camp Delta. And actually, more than—probably more than 50 percent of my time was spent inside of the camp, where they try to say, "He was just a perimeter guard." Where the other time I was—spent outside, in the perimeter.

So, that night, I was inside Camp Delta. I was in the camp. I was 35 feet to—35 to 40 feet away from the medical clinic. I had three guards, at best, 25 meters away from the medical clinic. I had another guard directly—in a tower directly looking at Camp One, the walkway in Camp One. I had a total of seven guards that had visual—that could visually see Camp One and the medical clinic, and had a clear, unobstructed view. And none of those guards were interviewed by NCIS.

AMY GOODMAN: None of those guards were interviewed, the ones who were able to see whether the prisoners were taken away?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: The tower guards, the eyes in the sky, none of them were interviewed. The guards that were posted just across the street from the medical clinic, none of them were interviewed. They would be the first one you would interview. And for them to say that I was a perimeter guard, it threw a lot of people off, and that’s where the criticism came from. And I don’t blame the people that criticize me, because they’re taking their word. But I also think—the thing is, is being in the unique position I had, where I was in the camp and outside the camp on certain duties, it gave me an even more—it gave me a better position to even tell, you know, what was going on, because I could leave Camp Delta and see where that van was going. I could go inside of Camp Delta and see the detainees being loaded into the van. It was—the position, actually, was beneficial, not how they tried to explain it.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Denbeaux?

MARK DENBEAUX: Yes. One of the important things about the statement, because they were critical of Joe and of our report—one of their critical statements was that where Joe was, he couldn’t see into the cells. And that’s really a very disingenuous statement, because Sergeant Hickman never said he could see into the cells. What he said was he was standing by the clinic, where if they had been brought from the cells, found dead hanging in their cells, they would have had to walk within 10 yards of him. And he, in fact—so, he was in a place to show the bodies were never brought into the clinic from the camp.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Joseph Hickman, when you first—when you noticed these discrepancies, you took them first to the Department of Justice. How did they respond to your concerns about what happened that night?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: I met two FBI agents, and I met an attorney from the—two attorneys from the Department of Justice at Seton Hall Law School with my attorney, Josh Denbeaux, and Professor Mark Denbeaux. And we sat and spoke for about three hours. They seemed very interested in what happened. They asked a lot of questions. And I was really encouraged by their interest in what I was telling them.

AMY GOODMAN: Joseph Hickman, who is your favorite president?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Ronald Reagan.

AMY GOODMAN: And you were the first officer on the camp to have soldiers open fire on the prisoners during an uprising among them?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Yes. I’m a sergeant. I’m actually enlisted. I’m not an officer. But, yes, I was the first—I was the first one to ever give the order to fire on detainees.

AMY GOODMAN: Did your view of the camp change, of the prison change? How did it change in that year that you were there?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, it’s a big culture shock when you get to Guantánamo the first time, and you’re overseeing detainees, and you’re seeing how they live. It was a difficult, uncomfortable place to be. And you look down—you first get there, and you see these detainees housed in these six-by-eight cells, and you know they’ve been there for years, living in these cells for years, getting one hour of rec time a week. You know there’s some serious human rights issues. And it did affect me. And it was the first place I was ever stationed that—you know, every soldier takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. It was the first duty station I was ever at where I actually started questioning: Was I breaking my oath?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mark Denbeaux, from the investigations that you have done on what happened that night, do you have any sense of—you know, were these people, the three detainees who died, were they deliberately targeted, or was it an experiment gone wrong?

MARK DENBEAUX: Well, I guess the answer is I don’t know. I mean, three people died under circumstances that were different from the investigative report. I think probably the closest I can get to is trying to figure out what the motive would be for these cover-ups and these false statements. And I think my own view is a legitimate investigation into what would have caused their deaths, and answered your question—you know, was it deliberate, was it accidental—would apparently have revealed a great deal of other activities that were taking place in Guantánamo that would have been something that our administration at that time would never have wanted to be revealed. They certainly wouldn’t have wanted to show that Guantánamo was an intelligence operation, not a detention facility.

I’ve always wondered why they would bring 779 of the most dangerous people in the world closer to the United States. And, of course, it turns out that the answer was, it was part of this program that began with marching orders directly from President Bush. So I’ve concluded that we don’t know why or how they died, by an experiment or otherwise, but an investigation into that would have answered that question. But it also would have revealed things that General Dunleavy and General Miller inadvertently revealed later on.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Sergeant Joseph Hickman, you knew at that time that prisoners were taken away from where you were if they wanted to break them or turn them to be CIA assets, is that right?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: I did not know that at the time. I did occasionally see detainees transported prior to June 9th to Camp No, but I didn’t know at the time that they were doing that operation.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what have you come to conclude right now about what this prison represents? You know, one of the recordings that’s come out in the horror that took place in Paris was Coulibaly, the man who opened fire in the kosher supermarket, speaking, sort of ranting in the supermarket, because a reporter called up, and he picked up the phone, thought he hung it up, but they were able to record what he was saying. He referred to ISIS. He referred to Iraq. And he also said—it was a little hard to understand, but, "Stop unveiling our women. Stop putting our brothers in prison for everything and anything." What Guantánamo has come to represent—in the United States, they’re using it to say we can never close it now, especially Republicans who were against the closure of Guantánamo, because we need it for terrorists. But what you now see it’s come to represent in the rest of the world?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, it makes—I mean, we pride ourselves on human rights, and this is ridiculous. We have a place that breaks so many human rights, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think there should be a Guantánamo. I think people should be charged for crimes, but I think it should be here in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Guantánamo threatens our national security?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Yes. I think it breeds terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: In what way?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, I think the recidivism numbers, I think, are wrong that they come out with. But if you take a guy that was sent to Guantánamo off of a bounty from another tribe, and he sits there for 10, 12 years, his family comes to hate the United States. He himself hates the United States. When he gets out, how are these people going to respond to what we did to him?

AMY GOODMAN: Last question is about another prisoner, the prisoner whose name is Shaker Aamer. It happened the same night. It happened on June 9th, 2006. His attorney, Zachary Katznelson, described the torture of Aamer in a federal filing. Scott Horton excerpted the statement. He said, "[Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. [Mr.] Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The [MPs] inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die." This is the same night as the other three prisoners died. Do you know about this?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Yes, yes. I obtained the document, actually. And the detainee, Shaker Aamer, if you notice, in the affidavit, there is a lot of similarities to the three that did die. There was a mask put on his face. There was—it was a lot of similarities—blockage of the airway, several things. It was pretty shocking when we discovered that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us. Is there any last statement you would like to make, having written your book, Murder at Camp Delta, having served at Guantánamo, in light of what has taken place now in the world, Joseph Hickman, speaking to us from Green Bay?

JOSEPH HICKMAN: Well, I’d just like to say that I wrote this book so the truth could come out. And people will notice I dedicated it to Talal al-Zahrani. It is the father of one of the detainees, who has always questioned the U.S. government’s version of what happened that night. And I hope in some way this answers some questions and, in an odd way, gives him some peace, so he knows the truth.

AMY GOODMAN: Joseph Hickman, thanks so much for being with us, former Army staff sergeant stationed in Guantánamo from March 2006 for the following year. He has just written a book called Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay. And Mark Denbeaux, thanks for being with us, professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, director of the Center for Policy and Research, co-author of the new report, "Guantánamo: America’s Battle Lab." We’ll link to it at democracynow.org.

When we come back, a remarkable story of a doctor in Amsterdam who decides to challenge laws against abortion around the world to protect women’s reproductive rights. She takes to the high seas. Stay with us.


The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Email icon redDaily News Digest