From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay

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The Guardian interviews a veteran of Abu Ghraib:

Torin Nelson, who served as a military intelligence officer at Guant?namo Bay before moving to Abu Ghraib as a private contractor last year, blamed the abuses on a failure of command in US military intelligence and an over-reliance on private firms. He alleged that those companies were so anxious to meet the demand for their services that they sent "cooks and truck drivers" to work as interrogators….

He claimed that "many of the detainees at the prison are actually innocent of any acts against the coalition and are being held until the bureaucracy there can go through their cases and verify their need to be released."…

"I've read reports from capturing units where the capturing unit wrote, 'the target was not at home. The neighbour came out to see what was going on and we grabbed him,'" he said.

According to Mr Nelson's account, the victims' very innocence made them more likely to be abused, because interrogators refused to believe they could have been picked up on such arbitrary grounds.

When you're through digesting that, think about this:

Mr Nelson worked at Guant?namo Bay as a senior interrogator attached to the Utah National Guard. He said that most of the interrogators there were military professionals, but that by the time he left in early 2003, private contractors had begun to arrive.

There is no evidence of abuses on the scale of Abu Ghraib being committed at Guant?namo Bay, but Mr Nelson said that like the Iraqi jail, it was packed with innocent people, who are only now being released.

"Mistakes were made and people who should never have been sent there ended up there, and it's taken this amount of time to get people to take the decision to get these people out of there," Mr Nelson said.

"All it takes is the signature of a low ranking NCO to send someone right around the world and have them locked up indefinitely but it takes the signature of the secretary of defence to let them go."

Footnote: I Googled Nelson to see what else I could find about him. There's not a lot out there—but there is this.

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