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Gordon Cucullu- Contributor


Former Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist, author and a popular speaker. Born into a military family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work, Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is based in large part on his extensive experience in Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman. [website] [go to Cucullu index]

Separated at Birth : How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
Gordon Cucullu

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Abuse at Guantanamo
Reporting on a visit to Gitmo…
[Gordon Cucullu] 6/28/05

After speaking with soldiers, sailors, and civilians who collectively staff the Joint Task Force - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on my recent visit to that base, I left convinced that abuse definitely exists at the detention facilities. But not the slander and hyperbole about alleged mistreatment of the unlawful combatants confined there that we’ve all heard. There is far more serious abuse: the relentless, merciless attacks on American servicemen and women by these same terrorist thugs. Many of the orange jumpsuit-clad detainees fight their captors at every opportunity. These terrorist prisoners openly brag of their desire to kill Americans. One has promised that if he is released he would find MPs in their homes through the Internet, break into their houses at night and ‘cut the throats of them and their families like sheep.’ Others claim authority and vindication to kill women, children, and other innocents who oppose their jihadist mission from the Koran (the same one that hangs in every cell from a specially-designed holder intended to protect it from an ‘infidel’ touch).

Former intelligence officer Wayne Simmons asked those in charge pointedly why we would allow a book like the Koran – that inflames and reinforces the jihadist mentality – even to be distributed to these people. “Doesn’t giving them a Koran simply add fuel to an ideological fire already burning out of control?” Simmons asked. Those in charge were visibly surprised at the question. “Giving them the Koran is simply something that we think we ought to do as a humane gesture,” said second-in-command Brigadier General Gong. “We’re Americans. That’s how we operate.” Our group went to GITMO to check out tales that the military was being too tough on these terrorist detainees. We left convinced that America is being extraordinarily lenient – some might even say too much so.

But JTF GITMO commanding officer Brigadier General Jay Hood will have none of that. He radiated confidence and determination when fielding challenges from our group about lenient treatment. “It works,” he says simply. “We do not allow torture or mistreatment, period.” How to they guarantee this? By rigorous, on-going training and constant oversight up and down the supervisory chain. As proof that “establishing rapport” with the detainees is far more effective than coercive techniques, General Hood refers skeptics to the massive amount of usable intelligence information JTF GITMO continues to produce even three years into the program.

We dined with the soldiers, toured several of the individual holding camps, observed interrogations, and inspected cells. We were impressed by the universally high quality of the cadre and the facilities. While it may not be exactly “Club GITMO” that Rush Limbaugh uses to tweak the hard-left critics who haven’t a clue about reality here, GITMO is a far cry from the harshness we would expect in a maximum security prison in the US.

Meals for detainees are ample: we lunched on what several thought was an accumulated single day’s ration for detainees. “No,” the contract food service manager said with a laugh, “what you’re looking at there is today’s lunch. A single meal. They get three a day like that.” The vegetables, pita bread, and other well prepared food filled two of the large Styrofoam take-home containers we see in restaurants. Several prisoners have special meal orders like “no tomatoes” or “no peanut products” depending on taste or allergies. “One prisoner,” General Hood said, “throws back his food tray if it contains things he has specifically said he doesn’t want.” How is he punished for this outrageous behavior? He gets his food specially prepared, his tray is numbered, and the tray is delivered to his cell.

The detainees are similarly catered to medically. Almost every one arrived at GITMO with some sort of battlefield trauma. After all, the majority were captured in combat. Today they are healthy, immunized, and well cared for. At a visit to the modern hospital facility – dedicated solely to the detainees and comparable to a well-equipped and staffed small-town hospital with operating, dental, routine facilities – the doctor in charge confirmed that the caloric count for the detainees was so high that while “most detainees arrived undernourished,” medics now watch for overweight and cholesterol issues. Each of approximately 520 terrorists currently held in confinement averages about four medical visits monthly, something one would expect from only a dedicated American hypochondriac. Welcome to the rigors of detention under American supervision.

Of the estimated 70,000 battlefield captures that were made in Afghanistan, only a tiny percentage, something on the order of 800+, were eventually evacuated to GITMO. These were the worst of the worst. More than 200 have been released, either back to their home country (only if the US is assured that they will not be tortured by local authorities) or because they have been deemed by ongoing official military review processes to be no longer a threat or possess no useful information. Even that process has proved overly generous: more than 10 released GITMO detainees have been killed or recaptured fighting Americans or have been identified as resuming terrorist activities. Still, the process is up and running for review of cases, and if a Washington DC circuit court approves a government appeal, the system for military tribunals will get started. All mechanisms are in place and ready to go as soon as DoD gets a green light.

There is a good reason these unlawful combatants are being confined. They are very evil and very dangerous individuals. One detainee was heard to tell another: “One day I will enjoy sucking American blood, although their blood is bitter, undrinkable…” These recalcitrant detainees are known euphemistically as being “non-compliant.” They attack guards whenever the soldiers enter their cells, trying to reach up under protective face masks to gouge eyes and tear mouths. They make weapons and try to stab the guards or grab and break limbs as the guards pass them food. Yet these thugs are treated with an amazing degree of compassion: They are given ice cream treats and recreational time. They live in clean facilities, and receive a full Muslim religious package of Koran, prayer rug, beads, and prayer oils. An arrow in every cell points to Mecca. The call to prayer is played five times daily. They are not abused, hanged, tortured, beheaded, raped, mutilated or in any way treated the way that they once treated their own captives or now treat their guards.

You are right to worry about inhumane treatment taking place at GITMO. But your concern should be for the dedicated, well-trained, highly professional American men and women who are subjected to a daily barrage of feces, urine, semen, and spit hurled at them along with vile invective as they implement a humane, enlightened system of confinement on men who want nothing more than to kill Americans. These quiet professional Americans, who live under the motto “Honor Bound for Defense of Freedom,” deserve our utmost respect and concern. Shame on anyone who slanders or disrespects them. tRO

Curious about North Korea? Learn more in Gordon’s best-selling book Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became the Evil Twin, Lyons Press available at bookstores now.

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2005




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