Guantanamo, Murad, President Obama discussed on The Majority Report with Sam Seder
That's a great question. What happened was back in two thousand and eight? When President Obama that time candidate Brcko bombers running and John McCain running Republican Republican Party? Both men said that they want to close Guantanamo. And actually president. George Bush also said he thought Guantanamo should be closed so it seemed like in the air. It was going to happen and my concern. I don't ever since nine eleven I had done work on terrorism post nine eleven and it seemed to me that yes they were probably going to. Whoever became president was probably going to close it and I was concerned that these these stories of Guantanamo would fade away into the dustbin of history if you will and there was no narrative Guantanamo very little written tobacco channel by that time and no one had really told full length stories all histories about Guantanamo? And once that close it'd be over. I felt left and so I was excuse me as long as you asked. I was actually inspired by my father. You probably know the Shoah Foundation which Steven in Spielberg started in the nineteen eighties. He wanted to document the Holocaust and there were Holocaust denies that time and my father had not been an But had barely escaped from Austria just in time and he was one of the people interviewed by the Shoah Foundation nations. I happen to be present when they interviewed him on camera film and that inspired me. I thought we should do that too. We should film these all all his people. Both at detainees were there and Americans who were there. As prison guards interrogators interpreters military official sial government officials people who saw it from both sides and so I was very fortunate. There was someone who had a small foundation in San Francisco Cisco who bay area who often me some money to be able to go to five countries in two thousand. Nine interview sixteen detainees. He's got the the project started and eventually we interviewed one hundred fifty. Eight people both detainees and others over that decade telling the stories on film and no one else has done that in the world of course and we have over three hundred hours film that we donated the Duke University Human Rights Archive. They'RE GONNA put most of it up on the Internet. Did you at the time when you started. Did you anticipate that. Ten years later in the that Guantanamo would still be open that there would still be more than two dozen prisoners. Some some of whom will just will die. They're actually you know it's funny you ask that. Even though I thought it I will. Maybe these men will close Guantanamo. I also don't trust what I hear even from people who have good intentions and I felt that I don't know I don't know if that will happen in someone even from the Obama Administration when he won the transition team in call me up and said Look Peter Look We. We're going to close Guantanamo and we're going to hold hearings and you don't have to do this and I said well I I would love to know that's true but I'm going to start this just in case that's match and so I was still doing ten years later and so so it's not that I'm cynical even skeptical but I just just know the way politics works and I it good example. That SAM is a lot of people when we tell people what we're doing. A lot of people said well Guantanamo's closed. I said it's not closed. Why do you think that? And it's because President Obama said four times. He was closing Guantanamo. People leave if he said it he did it but he never did and honestly. I'm not sure we want to go into. But it wasn't just Republicans blocking income that reason why he'd never did but beside that he never did and and so even people with very good intentions. Don't always follow through and and I felt we had to do this for history. I do actually want to get into that. But let's first talk a little bit about talk a little bit about some of the the of these Spoke to yes and and you know the thing that I was struck by was I talked to To advocates of of of abolishing the capital punishment and one of the things that they talk about. Is You know you never hear the stories of and obviously they shouldn't be centered right. I mean the EH. The victims are but you never hear the stories of how the people who actually kill people how how it impacts the executioners and and there's a quality of work here that I think sort of like brings that out as well but let's start I mean I don't know if there's a detainee that that is that that sticks out in your mind that is most relevant. I'm curious about hearing about and I may be pronouncing his name. Murad benching Benchellali. Yes I mean he was French and he's he he was kind of naive. His brother actually had some connections to toews organization and went off gas and he encouraged Murad to a follow him. Murad was a young man and fact Sam there were. There was some number of juveniles in Guantanamo. who were over sixteen? There were few under sixteen but most were between sixteen and eighteen and they were held as adults and Murad was I think eighteen eighteen or nineteen but he was naive and he kind of followed his but the to Afghanistan and then was caught up like so many other strange's in Afghanistan and purchased list and brought to Guantanamo and he was miserable one of the reasons why he caught my eyes because he was in very depressing. We interviewed him the first time we interviewed him the second time as well and it was because he felt that what he saw in Guantanamo was much worse for him than fiscal prisoner was a psychological the logical prison and I don't think people realize that a lot of the torch. The physical beatings were done Afghanistan. But when the men came to Guantanamo they were more psychologically tortured and to Murad into most of the people. We interviewed detainees. That was worse as one other fringe. Detainee said to us once you pull out the knife start to heal but with psychological torture. You've never heal and the rapid the UN repertory special repertoire offer. Torture told us that after fifteen days in isolation people usually never come back fully and so these men were held in isolation sometimes for for more than a year and they also there were also other ways that they messed with these men in in ways that Murad Express. You just couldn't come back from it. There was something called frequent flyer where they took these men and move them to a cell at let them stay there for two to three thousand house and came to him and said time to move and move them to enter another sell for two or three hours and then came back time to move again. They did that for two or three weeks of the men never got got any sleep and they just removed from cell to cell and that was called frequent phineas done as well. I can go into other ways psychological culture please do. They were told that they were GonNa go home and they were dressed in street clothes they were going to put on a plane and go home and then they would kept in another camp where they were told to getting going home and then they never were going go home and then some days later weeks later they were they were taking them back to their cells and said I guess you're not going home and then another man was told once that his mother was on his way to Guantanamo and she was going to be raped gang-raped if he didn't start talking and so it was so it was in terms of how they mistreated these people they did. They took away what they called comfort items. Where if you didn't behave you didn't tell them what they want to hear? You even denied toothbrushes toilet paper if you will whatever it took to get them to be just more miserable and took defeat into feel like there was no way out in fact some people said there was no way out they were. They thought they were the rules. The the rules in the prison also changed day to day. That people who in charge just made up rules as the day went on and so the men never knew what to expect from moment to the moment and they also played with another way. When we detainee a week is the week is now? They're the Muslims in China when we get told us that they came to pick up his meal and ask for a spoon. He said You'd never gave me a spoon today. And they said yes we did and he said No. You didn't so they brought in what they call the Earth Force which is a force of sixer Gods that come in and Mace Ace the detainee and then beat him up and carry him out and bring them to isolation and and the he said they did that they probably knew he didn't have a spoon they did. Just throw them off. God they kind of want people not to be resisted not to fight back and so you never knew if you're going to be earth did not and this is another even though it might be. Physical and sapphires goal to people is really more psychological. Because you never knew when you be earth it would just happen for leases. That were not rational now. I know that you spoke to a whistle blower and that there is Some military guards you spoke to. was there anybody who you spoke to. Who or have you learned subsequent through other means that how how systemic this was I mean how when they when they start this like frequent flyer program as they called it or when they would put someone in isolation for that had extended period of time or or do any of these things were they were? They were these people where the guards with was the commanders. Whoever authorized this I mean how how high up the chain did it go in terms of authorization A.? M B How how studied was this or was this? Just sort of like Something I learned when I was a working at a jail. You know. uh-huh private prison in Pennsylvania or something like that I mean. Where did these ideas come from?.