Guantanamo: A legacy of shame

Despite Obama’s promises to close it, the prison remains open with no end in sight.

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, one of his biggest campaign promises was to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)
“They used dogs on us, they beat me, sometimes they hung me from the ceiling and didn’t allow me to sleep for six days,” Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj, who spent six years in Guantanamo Bay prison, told Al Jazeera. “Sometimes they wouldn’t allow me to use the restroom, other times they would run the air conditioner very high and leave me in that room for a very long time.”

This was after he’d had his kneecap broken just after being detained by the US military in Pakistan in 2001, when he was on a reporting assignment to cover the US invasion of Afghanistan. Al-Haj was regularly tortured by US military personnel and interrogators throughout his time in the infamous prison.

“Sometimes they brought soldiers in to be sexual in front of me, other times they brought ladies and removed your clothes to perform sexual actions on you,” He continued. “If you had an illness, like a toothache, and requested medical help, the doctor would tell you to first answer the interrogators questions and then he will care for you. I had tooth problems because they didn’t give us toothbrush and paste.”

Brandon Neely, a US Military Policeman and former Guantanamo guard, told Al Jazeera detainees were “treated horribly”. Neely regularly watched detainees being beaten and humiliated, as well as even watching a medic beat an inmate.

Despite having signed non-disclosure forms before he left the prison, Neely said: “I had to talk about what was going on there. I’d rather deal with the risk of repercussions than live without talking about it because people have to know what is happening there.”

Neely isn’t the only member of the US military talking about the reality of Guantanamo.

Read the full article at Al Jazeera English.