Lost Innocence at Guantánamo: We Can't Let Them Get Away With It
10 June 2013
By Karin Friedemann
Rebuffing President Barack Obama's latest plea, House
Republicans last week proposed keeping open the
military-run prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, barring
the administration from transferring its terror
suspects to the United States or foreign countries,
and giving the Pentagon $247.4 million to upgrade
Former Guantánamo guard Terry Holdbrooks, who worked
at Camp Delta from June 2003 through July 2004 and
wrote a book about his experiences entitled "Traitor,"
said that the US military base in Cuba "was
essentially chosen for the legal limbo that it posed
so long ago, being that it was not under Geneva
Convention soil. We have held people there in nearly
every conflict, particularly, WW2, Cold War, Desert
Storm, and now this. At any rate, there is no longer a
concern for legal limbo, as with the War on T'error'
and the bills that have been passed, Bush, and now
Obama can essentially do as they please, legal or not,
and claim that it is in the best interest of the US."
There are currently 166 men left at Guantánamo. They
are indefinitely detained at a cost of $1 million a
year per inmate, despite nearly all being cleared for
release. The only men at Guantánamo who are still
considered guilty of terrorism are the so-called
"masterminds" of 9/11: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid
Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh,
Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.
"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to
Z," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is famous for confessing.
These five men are not being held with the general
population, but housed in Camp 7, otherwise known as
"Camp No." Holdbrooks told TMO he has never seen them
and has no idea who is in charge of guarding them. He
has no doubt the men are being severely tortured, but
also expressed certainty that there is nobody who
"No one is coming for them. It would not matter if the
men in Guantánamo were in the US, they would still be
locked up, and no one would come for them."
The U.S. Justice Department released a 2005 memo which
states that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in
March 2003 alone. As a result of these interrogations,
he confessed to 26 pages of terrorist acts around the
The US government seriously charges him with "training
hijackers to hide knives in carry-on bags before
boarding the planes. Under Mohammed's direction, the
hijackers learned how to slit the throats of
passengers by practicing on sheep, goats and camels."
On May 5, 2012 CNN reported, "The five refused to
co-operate with court proceedings in various ways.
They are each charged with terrorism, hijacking
aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law
of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian
objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury
and destruction of property in violation of the law of
The actual evidence against the five men ranges from
wiring relatively small amounts of money to suspicious
persons to repeatedly applying for US tourist visas
after being rejected. They seem to be most guilty of
not recognizing the US government's authority to try
them and using the trial as a platform to make
During his pretrial hearing, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
stated that the U.S. government sanctioned torture in
the name of national security and compared the plane
hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people to the
millions who have been killed by America's military.
After Mohammed's remarks, military judge Captain James
Pohl refused to allow any other personal comments by
the accused at trial.
"If martyrdom happens to me today, I welcome it. God
is great! God is great! God is great!" Binalshibh told
his trial judge, Marine Colonel Ralph Kohlmann.
While it appears that the five men are seeking
execution as a way of escaping prison, many more men
are starving themselves to death to protest their
"Emaciated and frail, more than 100 men lie on
concrete floors of freezing, solitary cells in
Guantánamo, silently starving themselves to death,"
reports Terri Judd in the Independent, UK.
"They've lost hope. They've decided it's better to
die," Holdbrooks said. "One of them is down to 70
pounds… With nothing to do but read a book you have
memorized, or pace in a 6 by 8 cell, there really
isn't much to be hopeful for."
Terry Holdbrooks described their situation: "You are
on an island, surrounded by a mine field, surrounded
by fences with lookout towers, in a cage within a
larger cage called a block in a larger cage called a
camp in a larger cage known as Camp Delta. You have at
a minimum 4 sally ports to make way out of, each
requiring ID, keys, and searching of persons. The
cells are guarded by people like me, who walk up and
down a block all day and night… Guantánamo is not a
place people can break out of, it is impossible,
literally, impossible. 90 miles from land (Florida)
surrounded by mine fields, men in towers, automatic
weapons and grenade launchers and sniper rifles…"
Author David Hicks, an Australian man who was
kidnapped in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance and
sold to the US for bounty wrote in a letter to his
father that his confessions made at Guantánamo were
false and made only to get released. Hicks told his
father that he was pressured into pleading guilty to a
wide-range of war crimes charges and he feared that if
he didn't comply he would be sent to "Camp 5," a "very
bad place with complete isolation…"
"Know that if I make a deal it will be against my
will," Hicks wrote. "I just couldn't handle it any
longer. I'm disappointed in our government. I'm an
Australian citizen. If I've committed a crime I can be
man enough to accept the consequences but I shouldn't
have to admit to things I haven't done or listen to
people falsely accuse me. We can't let them get away
"I feel bad about the idea that Guantánamo is even in
existence," concludes Holdbrooks. "I would love to see
Guantánamo given back to Cuba and for the facility and
land to be free of US persons. None the less, what
will happen with Guantánamo when these men go home is
what worries me. It will get filled again, probably
with Americans… Guantánamo is really, to me, nothing
more than a blatant example of where we as a country
are heading if citizens do not take back control of
our own country."