Friday, 19 December 2008

U.S. Soldier Exposes Torture at Guantanamo

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GuantanamoMarine Sgt. Heather Cerveny has exposed torture at Guantanamo, despite high-level pressure to suppress the information. Though the military initially dismissed her allegations, the patriotic Marine sergeant has now been vindicated.


Cerveny had informed superiors at Guantanamo prison that two guards had bragged about beating Guantanamo detainees.  Cerveny's abuse report was first revealed in 2006, and the military promised a quick investigation. "We are reviewing this affidavit and will investigate these allegations fully," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler told the Associated Press back in 2006.

But in 2007 the military officially exonerated the guards Cerveny had accussed of bragging. Chief investigator Col. Richard Bassett found that "the evidence did not support any of the allegations of mistreatment or harassment," and a "letter of counseling"  was sent to Cerveny for initiating a "fictitious account" of detainee abuse.

Now that investigation has been revealed to be nothing but a whitewash.

The world now knows that torture has occurred at Guantanamo. It's not just detainees who have alleged torture, but the U.S. Senate has supported the allegation (though, in cowardly fashion, failed to call it "torture").

On December 18, the Associated Press reported that documents obtained from the Inspector General's office through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that one of the two guards fingered by Cerveny had confessed to investigators he had beaten detainees. The other guard, documents revealed, had previously acted violently to superiors in training. The record now reveals that the whistleblower, Cerveny, was the one who was under prosecution during the investigation. "It was definitely confrontational, like a cross-examination," Vokey told the Associated Press. "He read her her rights and accused her of making a false claim. It scared Sgt. Cerveny pretty badly. She was shaking afterward."

Cerveny isn't the only U.S. soldier to testify to abuse by American soldiers despite high-level pressure to remain quiet. Early in the Iraqi occupation, Sgt. Samuel Provance was almost single-handedly responsible for exposing the disgraceful abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Provance also faced administrative discipline and official condemnation for testifying to what the world now knows to be the truth. But like Cerveny, Provance held to the truth and the corruption was exposed.

Freedom-loving Americans should find the news about Cerveny to be both encouraging and alarming. It is encouraging because it shows that there patriotic soldiers in America's military services with the moral fortitude to expose what's clearly wrong, even when faced with official repression from above. It is alarming not only because of the thorough corruption at the top, but because of the impact of such events have on whether men and women of such high caliber will remain in the armed services. It's quite possible that the incident will end with Cerveny drummed out of the Marine Corps, as the Abu Ghraib controversy ended Provance's career in the Army.


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