Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We Wondered Why He Was Speaking Arabic With A Southern Accent

We've written before about how, given the fact that because the current administration can no longer be smarter than our enemies, they've tried to be more evil. Turns out the president's gang isn't very good at that either. Unless you count torturing an American soldier by mistake.

A U.S. military policeman was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison. Sean Baker was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

"That's just good training protocol," explained White house Press Secretary Scott McClellan. "We figure if we can make our guys mean enough to permanently injure one of their own, then we should have no 'interviewing' a terrorist."

Baker, a Persian Gulf War veteran who re-enlisted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was medically retired in April 2004. He said the assault had left him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.

Baker orders that night were to get under a bunk on a steel floor in a dark cell, and wait: He asked if second lieutenant Shaw Locke, the drill officer, was going to tell the soldiers that he was a U.S. soldier.

"I told him 'Yes, you'll be fine. Trust me.' said Locke. "What a rube. He actually believed me. Like we really want the other soldiers to know it's not a real rag head they're working on. Takes the edge off, you know?"

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said he shouted "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" The beating continued, he said, until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

"That's when we knew something wasn't right," said Scott Sinclair an MP who was holding onto his head. "I was all like Whoa, dudes. He's one of us. Bummer."

Bloodied and disoriented, Baker somehow made it back to his unit, and his first thought was to get hold of the videotape of the session. My squad leader went to get the tape." But Baker says his squad leader said, "There is no tape."

"Funny story there," said Michael Riley, Baker's platoon sergeant. "Turns out the guys in the media room were ordered to tape an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond for the Commander. It's her favorite show. Anyway, the guy that was supposed to do the taping left the blank tape in his room, so when the show came on he just grabbed one off the shelf and guess what? It was the Baker tape. What are the odds?"

The Pentagon first said that Baker's hospitalization after the training incident was not related to the beating. "We thought it was a shaving related accident," said a pentagon spokesperson.

Later, officials conceded that he had been treated for injuries suffered when the five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas. "Was the pepper spray too much? Was that over the line?" Asked the pentagon spokesperson. "Maybe we went past our guidelines here, but the military is all about going the extra mile."

The Army didn't conduct a serious investigation into what happened to Baker for 17 months. "Its as if they just went on living their lives, as if they'd done nothing. Nothing wrong," said Baker, who now takes nine medications a day.

"On the bright side, he has no copay for his medications, said Captain Judith Brown, the commander of the Kentucky National Guard at Guantanamo."

Asked if there was any justification for what happened to Baker, McClellan said, "If we're that thorough with an American, think what it's like for one of the detainees."

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