Patterico's Pontifications

10/6/2006

Patterico’s Exclusive Interview with a Man Who Has Spoken to the Terrorists at Guantánamo (Part Five: Responding to Press Accounts of GTMO and Other Issues)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:23 am

[This is Part Five of my exclusive interview with “Stashiu,” an Army nurse who worked at Guantánamo, and who spoke on a regular basis with detainees with psychological and/or behavioral problems. Part One is here. Part Two is available here. Part Three is here. Part Four is here.

As before, these posts represent Stashiu’s opinions and experiences, and are not meant to represent anything or anyone else, including the opinions of the U.S. Army. Stashiu wants me to make it clear that nearly everything discussed here has been officially released. As to those parts that are based on his personal experience, he has been careful to respect operational security and confidentiality.

In today’s entry, Stashiu responds to press accounts of life at GTMO, and answers other miscellaneous questions.]

There have been a number of recent press accounts of life at GTMO — some favorable to the U.S., and some not. I asked Stashiu to take a look at some of them to tell me whether he believed they were accurate, based on his stay at Gitmo.

Atrocities: The Comfy Chair and “Smoke a Hooka”

Stashiu confirmed something not everyone realizes: detainees are still being interrogated at GTMO — and are apparently still giving up good information.

What harsh techniques are being used to extract this information? The answer to that question will shock you.

A couple of recent pieces in the media have suggested that some of the detainees actually enjoy their interrogations. For example, in a passage that reminded me of Monty Python’s “Comfy Chair” sketch (from the show about the Spanish Inquisition), Rich Lowry said this:

Interrogators rely on the soft sell. Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

This allegation was corroborated by Mark Steyn. But for all we know, Steyn was on the same press junket as Lowry. So I asked Stashiu: are the detainees really pampered in interrogations? He said:

For some, they eagerly await days until “reservation” (interrogation) and there are frequently requests to see their interrogator. This is why I said that some fear to return home or they would be killed as traitors. They get to smoke (sometimes 4 or 5 packs at once, uggh!), watch new-release DVDs that have been screened by Intel so they don’t get current events, eat pizza or fast-food, listen to music, smoke a hooka, etc…. The better stuff they give up, the more the interrogators get for them. All of this has been previously released to the public, but you never hear about it in the MSM.

He emphasized that what he knew was based on what the detainees had told him:

I know just a little and it’s hearsay from detainees themselves. We were never allowed contact with the Intel folks. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it before, the leadership/administration didn’t want to give any appearance that the therapeutic relationship would be abused to exploit weaknesses. . . .

That’s also why the Intel folks objected to Colonel Bumgarner’s changes. While it did help settle the camp somewhat, it reduced the motivation to cooperate with interrogators. Just normal give and take between two sides with different objectives. Intel wanted information, Colonel Bumgarner wanted a safe and smooth-running camp. Not always completely compatible because of jihadi leadership influence.

I don’t know who the lady in [Lowry's] article is. We would have avoided each other by policy.

Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer . . . and Ping Pong

I sent Stashiu a link to an L.A. Times op-ed piece by someone named Moazzam Begg, who has written a book titled Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar. Stashiu took issue with many of Begg’s claims. For example, Begg says:

Some people think that Amnesty International’s description of the camp as the “gulag of our times” is too harsh. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, for instance, recently rejected the “gulag” label, telling conventions of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion that Guantanamo is more akin to a holiday resort, complete with a volleyball court, basketball court, soccer field and library.

During my years of incarceration, I never once encountered the things Rumsfeld mentioned and never met anyone who had.

Mr. Begg, meet Stashiu. He says:

There was a volleyball court, a basketball court, and a soccer field… all available to detainees who were at the appropriate level in camp. If they were compliant, they were moved to Camp IV (the same one where the fake suicide attempt was used to lure guards into the feces-smeared floor [so the detainees could] assault them).

This was an open area where they had full use of these things, along with ping-pong tables, board games, and a running track (pretty nice one). None of this was for use by guards or other staff, only detainees. Again, all of this has been released to the media but you don’t hear about it.

The library had books in every language spoken by detainees and was for detainees only, but some languages had a limited selection. The library staff would go out to the blocks to checkout books and get books being returned. I don’t know if detainees were ever allowed to go to the library, but it’s possible. I did a lot of work with the library because we used recreational reading as therapy tools. They try very hard to get materials, but funding and the need for screening by Intel makes it a little difficult.

Mr. Begg wrote in his op-ed:

“We cannot allow the terrorists’ lies and myths to be repeated without question or challenge,” Rumsfeld said in his speeches. But where exactly have the “terrorists’ lies and myths” been repeated? Detainees at Guantanamo are denied access to media, human rights groups, U.N. representatives, even family members. The many reports of abuse have come from conscientious U.S. military personnel and FBI and CIA agents appalled by some interrogation techniques and camp conditions. Soldiers have been charged with a range of abuses against detainees, including killings (at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) that I witnessed.

Stashiu had several things to say about that.

That is very misleading on several points.

First, the vast majority of complaints and allegations have come from detainees through a variety of conduits including the International Committee of the Red Cross, defense lawyers, detainees who were released (and I believe it has been reported that around 20 have been confirmed as returning to the battlefield), and family members receiving letters, among others.

This, incidentally, was the first reaction I had to the op-ed’s claims: haven’t we heard from the detainees themselves in a variety of ways? That fact alone renders Mr. Begg’s op-ed (and his entire book) suspect. Stashiu continued:

Second, the reports of abuse from military personnel are thoroughly investigated and perpetrators are punished. How many jihadis have been punished by peers when they violate the laws of war?

The “Gulag of Our Times”?

Stashiu continues:

Third, to call Guantánamo a “gulag” is not only inaccurate, it’s (in my opinion) reprehensible. In war, under the rules of previous conflicts, anyone found to be an unlawful combatant could be executed on the spot by the decision of the ranking officer. There did not have to be a trial or proof beyond a reasonable doubt, just reasonable suspicion. We (the United States) conduct war to a higher standard of conduct because of our culture’s respect for life and the rule of law. These are the types of things that are used against us, turning our strengths against us.

Currently, we are in Afghanistan and Iraq with the consent of their governments. I believe that, just like Hamas and Hezbollah attacks on Israel, any attack on U.S. Forces is technically an act of war against both the host government and the United States. . . .

Fourth, all anyone has to do is look at what happened at the authentic Soviet-era gulags and compare them to our country’s facilities, operating procedures, and personnel.

To Begg’s argument:

It seems odd, but Rumsfeld lamented in his speeches that too few people will recall how many Medals of Honor were earned in the “war on terror” versus the numbers of detainee abuses. But how can one man’s bravery possibly override the abuse of thousands — or even of one detainee?

Stashiu replied:

That’s like saying one doctor committing malpractice overrides all the good from doctors who save lives and help people. In my opinion, an incredibly stupid statement meant to dismiss Mr. Rumsfeld’s very good point.

Begg also spoke of a Vietnam veteran named Sgt. Foshee who complained to Begg about how the detainees were being treated. Stashiu had no basis to contest that, but reminds readers of a few points regarding the jihadis. His reaction to the op-ed as a whole:

General impression: Mostly propaganda; his claim to have been in solitary much of the time is very suspect. I know it couldn’t have been at GTMO, but he may have been referring to before his arrival in Cuba.

There were certainly activated reservists who were VietNam vets; I knew a couple. That part sounds like it’s mostly true to make the rest more believable.

When GTMO was opened, my understanding is that there was no effort made to disguise names either, so he may very well know SGT Foshee by his name, depending on the timeframe he is talking about.

I would emphasize that, by doctrine, the jihadis are told to: claim innocence; kidnapping; payment of bounties; abuse of all types; and a history of doing humanitarian work such as preaching, teaching children, building schools, etc… The usual monetary figure is a $5000 “bounty” (their word to me) from guys captured in Pakistan, but I heard that from detainees that I knew for a fact were lying through their teeth. While I can’t say if all of those claims were false, I just don’t know of any that were definitely true. I find it interesting that he immediately ties the story to VietNam.

Brutal Training Exercises

I asked Stashiu about this story, which deals with a man who was injured during a training exercise:

[Sean] Baker, a National Guardsman, was working last year as a military policeman in the Guantanamo Bay prison when other MPs injured him during a training drill. It was a drill during which Baker was only obeying orders.

“I was assaulted by these individuals,” says Baker. “Pure and simple.”

The exercise was taped, as all such exercises were — but the tape went missing. The suggestion is that, if we beat one of our own this mercilessly, God only knows what we did to the terrorists. I asked Stashiu about it. He said:

That was from before I got there, but sounds possible. IRF [Immediate Reaction Force] teams were routinely taped and that the tape is missing smells to me.

What the story doesn’t say is that there were cases of IRF teams being assaulted and the team members injured. One of the stories was that a detainee reverse-kicked the first member in line and broke his riot shield in two, then proceeded to lay out the rest of the team. When finished, he sat on the bunk and told the combat-camera “I just wanted to show you I could do it”. That was supposed to be from early on, but I honestly never saw the footage. I always meant to get over to see it, but never did. But several of the guards I worked with swore to me that they had watched it several times during their training.

I don’t think they use “practice” detainees anymore though, at least not that I ever saw or heard of. One of the after-action lessons learned I expect.

That being said, it would still have been an isolated incident and not policy. The goal of every forced cell extraction was zero injuries to detainees or guards. But it wouldn’t be the first time some inexperienced Lieutenant over-estimated his abilities to set up appropriate training. I would have expected the senior NCOs to keep the LT in line (many NCOs have a lot more practical experience than a new Lieutenant), but I don’t even know if it really happened. Just my opinion though.

KSM Comes to Gitmo

I noted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was recently transferred to Gitmo. I asked whether Stashiu knew if he would be segregated. What effect might his presence have on other detainees? Stashiu replied:

I wouldn’t assume segregation and there isn’t any solitary confinement. Anything further would be speculation on my part and I assume you’d rather I stick mostly to what I know and saw. There is most likely a completely new rotation of guards and staff by now. I really don’t know anyone there now and doubt anyone working current operations would be free to discuss things, especially someone like KSM.

Cut Off from the Outside World?

I asked Stashiu whether the prisoners are aware of events outside of Gitmo. If so, how? I assume they have no computer access. What about TV? Do they get Al Jazeera, for example?

No TV, radio, or newspapers. Some of the rumors were remarkably accurate as to current events, so they did have some sources of information. I suspected much came from ICRC and defense attorney visits, or [was] possibly overheard from our own personnel, as did many of the people I worked with. Some rumors were hilariously outrageous, but we would not confirm or deny anything they told us, even though we laughed our butts off later. The “news” that Bush had been assassinated brought great joy to the detainees in camp on more than one occasion, although I’m pretty sure that one wasn’t accurate.

There have been accusations recently that prisoners are communicating with each other through their lawyers, or at least by marking notes to each other as legal material and therefore rendering it off limits. I asked Stashiu if he has any thoughts about that. Is it true? Can it be prevented?

Their legal documents are known as “Habeas Mail” and is off-limits except in extreme circumstances and any search must be approved (IIRC) by the Camp Commander and the JTF (Joint Task Force) Commander. Those searches frequently turn up contraband (both weapons and information) when they are done. I have my private opinion about the lawyers and their agendas/loyalties. It could possibly be prevented if Habeas Mail were routinely searched, but I don’t know if that would be legal or completely fair. I would like to know what the policy in our prison system is for legal communications. That may provide the best balance between safety/security and confidentiality.

No Females

I had never heard of any females being held at Guantánamo, and asked Stashiu if there are any. He said:

No female detainees in Camp Delta at all, as has been reported in the media. Many of the guard force and medical personnel are female though. No special effort [was] made (as far as I know) to prevent or include females in that assignment.

Detainees: Not All Arabs

In one of our conversations, Stashiu told me that Guantánamo has Chinese and Canadian prisoners. I admit that this surprised me, as I don’t think most people realize that anyone at Gitmo is anything but an Arab terrorist. I asked Stashiu to elaborate on this, and he said:

If you look at CagePrisoners.com, you can get a pretty good overview of who they say is, or has been, at GTMO. It is very slanted, so take descriptions and information with lots of salt, but reading between the lines is possible. In my opinion, the slanting is pretty ham-handed and obvious. Most people are aware, or have been, of David Hicks from Australia. I really can’t detail any specific individuals beyond what is publicly available though, or even how accurate CagePrisoners.com is.

What Are Stashiu’s Favorite Blogs?

I couldn’t help but ask Stashiu when he started reading my blog. I asked whether folks at Gitmo folks read blogs — and if so, which ones. Alas, Stashiu couldn’t shed any light on this, as he didn’t begin reading blogs until he returned to the States:

Never read a blog until the beginning of July. Somebody tipped me off to Protein Wisdom and I was hooked from the night of Deb Frisch’s meltdown. I’ve expanded my reading extensively from that starting point. Your site was bookmarked from the first time I read it and is one of the 8 or 9 (let’s see, PW, you, Teh Squeaky Wheel, Misha, Sweetness and Light, Conservative Fireman, Rightwing Sparkle, Villainous Company) I read every word of daily. There are a couple dozen that I will scan, including Blackfive, LGF, Ace of Spades, Hot Air, and Iowahawk, among others.

The Press and Accuracy

I know that Stashiu has a great deal of disdain for most Big Media journalists. I asked him if he had ever seen journalists at Gitmo, and if so, whether he had talked to any.

Saw them several times and briefly escorted a few. Never gave an interview as they were voluntary and there wasn’t any way I would volunteer. Any that asked me a question got an “I do my job in a way my family would be proud of and that protects American interests” response, no matter how unrelated to the question asked. I neither liked nor trusted them and refused to be baited. Same with ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). My feelings about interviews didn’t come from anything anyone did while I was there. I had just seen too much of what I believed to be inaccurate information come out.

In conclusion, I hope that this series has been accurate, and that it has shed some light on the real Guantánamo. I come away with the impression that the place has minor flaws, like any other place. While there may have been abuses in the past — as evidenced by the detainees’ talking bad about the Army guys who used to run the place — that is mostly a thing of the past. It sounds as though, nowadays, Guantánamo is far from a source of shame; it is a place where folks like Stashiu work hard at a difficult job, and for the most part do it well.

Thanks to Stashiu

In particular, I want to extend my deepest thanks to Stashiu, a man for whom I have great admiration, and whom I hope to meet personally some day. I thank him for his service and for his extraordinary generosity in spending so much time with me, to make sure that these pieces have been accurate and interesting. In the course of putting these interviews together, I have had several telephone conversations with Stashiu — several hours total — and we have exchanged well over 100 e-mails. I feel that I have gotten to know him fairly well, and I think he is an absolutely stand-up guy. He didn’t have to tell us about Guantánamo, but I’m glad he did.

In my first post, I noted that a certificate accompanying Stashiu’s medal for service at Guantánamo stated that Stashiu “reflected credit upon himself, the United States Army, and the Department of Defense.” I think his interviews with me — with their candor coupled with a careful respect for confidential information — have reflected credit on the Army and the United States of America. I am proud to know this man, and proud of the job that he has done for our country.

P.S. Stashiu remains available to answer your questions in the comments. Because not everyone reads the comments, next week I may try to take the most interesting of the questions and answers and put them in a post. Many of you ask better questions than I ever thought of asking, and all my readers should see the answers.

117 Responses to “Patterico’s Exclusive Interview with a Man Who Has Spoken to the Terrorists at Guantánamo (Part Five: Responding to Press Accounts of GTMO and Other Issues)”

  1. [...] Pizza, DVDs, basketball, and the library: the American college experience comes to Cuba as Patterico and Stashiu tie up the loose ends. [...]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Inside Guantanamo: Patterico’s interview with Gitmo shrink concludes (d4224a)

  2. Patterico’s Interview With A Former Army Nurse At Gitmo…

    Part five…….

    The Political Pit Bull (64479c)

  3. Begg said,

    “We cannot allow the terrorists’ lies and myths to be repeated without question or challenge,” Rumsfeld said in his speeches. But where exactly have the “terrorists’ lies and myths” been repeated? Detainees at Guantanamo are denied access to media, human rights groups, U.N. representatives, even family members. The many reports of abuse have come from conscientious U.S. military personnel and FBI and CIA agents appalled by some interrogation techniques and camp conditions. Soldiers have been charged with a range of abuses against detainees, including killings (at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) that I witnessed.

    Well, it certainly looks as though Begg himself should be able to answer THAT question, seeing as how he himself apparently is repeating terrorist lies and myths! LOL!

    Beth (4c11b6)

  4. Stashiu,
    What do you think it’s going to take to get the truth “out there” and dismantle the propaganda/bullshit that the mainstream media spews?

    I ask because for the most part, you’re speaking to a friendly audience here. People who know others in the military or are/were military especially know that the men and women working at Gitmo aren’t deranged sadists, but for some reason it’s become easy for so many in the general public to believe otherwise–even if they know the military themselves. It’s simply impossible for me to believe the lies I see in “antiwar” (as if!–LOL!) publications and media, but it’s similarly impossible for them to believe the kinds of things you’re saying (much less Rich Lowry, Mark Steyn, etc.–or even Patterico). Even though WE know what you’re saying is true, people are still screaming for Gitmo to be closed and complaining about the legal process. It’s so illogical it seems as though they’re directly working FOR the enemy.

    I guess I’m saying that if you don’t speak to the liars in the media (like the LA Times), they won’t have your side of the story at all. I understand your desire for anonymity and privacy; hasn’t anyone in Big Stupid Media offered you anonymity in their requests for information/interviews?

    Beth (4c11b6)

  5. #5 Beth

    What do you think it’s going to take to get the truth “out there” and dismantle the propaganda/bullshit that the mainstream media spews?

    “We the People of the United States, …” The media is the way it is because it pays. If people stop paying for slanted journalism, it won’t profit and media will either change or starve. If we tolerate it and put money in the pockets of those who make the decisions, who can blame them? Our actions don’t match our behaviors and it’s the behavior that really matters. They have the right to say and do what they like, subject to the law. I have the right to take my business elsewhere.

    … hasn’t anyone in Big Stupid Media offered you anonymity in their requests for information/interviews?

    Yes, but how anonymous is that? It may not be obvious, but I made sure there was enough information available for the military to identify me easily, just in case there were any objections now, or later, for these posts. I stand by them. There is certainly enough information available to figure out who I am for anyone with some web-savvy. One poster did it within minutes, email from MSM came within 24 hours. Please look here for a more complete explanation.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  6. Stash -

    Fantastic interview! Not only has your information been fascinating, but your measured and civil responses to some of the more antagonistic comments is admirable and does you credit.

    Finally, please accept a genuine ‘Thank You!’ for your service to the nation.

    BrendaK (2d5d8a)

  7. #7 BrendaK

    You’re a good gerbil you are. ;)

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  8. I’d like to say thank you for your service, Stashiu. And thanks for the information about Guantanamo, it makes things much clearer for me. I wish there were a way to bypass Big Media and get this information to people who don’t prowl the internet, because they’re the ones who only have Big Media’s distortions to go by.

    RebeccaH (71415b)

  9. [...] Part Five: Stashiu reacts to Big Media pieces about GTMO. Stashiu confirmed something not everyone realizes: detainees are still being interrogated at GTMO — and are apparently still giving up good information. [...]

    Never Yet Melted » Interviews with a Guantánamo Staff Nurse (e5f157)

  10. Stashiu3,
    Thank you. Thank you for your dedicated service and your professionalism. Thank you for the respect with which you’ve responded to posters.

    And for all those Vietnam era dinosaurs hanging around, trying to compensate for the failures of the past by projecting into the current conflict, this ain’t your daddy’s elephant. New war, new enemy, new rules. New generation of warriors. Either lead, follow or get out of the way. -cp

    cold pizza (599927)

  11. I loved the story, printed it and will save it. My brother got back from Iraq in March, he said that of the MSM reporting that he saw about 90% could be thrown out the window… A 10% accuracy rating from the men and women protecting their ass.

    Anyhow, we as Conservatives tend to look at things from a defensive view because, obviously, common sense doesn’t fit with liberalism. We need to be pro-active. I say do the interview. Let the MSM print what they’re going to print… TAPE THE INTERVIEW… then you can come back here and print what you really said, and compare the two. We need to beat them with their game, not at it. Good work, God bless, and may you have all of the happiness that I want for my family.

    Bigdaddy (10ac10)

  12. Thanks for your service, your postings have restored my faith in the work the Military has done in this war on Terror.

    John CWO3 USN Ret

    John (02821d)

  13. in re: Post #11,

    cold pizza…

    You’d better not have a “Support Our Troops” sticker on your damn car with comments like that.

    Unless I misunderstand you, you are implying that the sacrifices made by soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam are somehow worth less than the sacrifices being made by our soldiers today.

    The failures of the Vietnam war weren’t the failures of the soldiers, they were failures of policy, mistakes, the blame for which rests with the highest levels of American government.

    Think.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  14. Stashiu3,

    It seems to me that much of the criticism from veterans of the military’s handling of GTMO, Abu Ghraib, etc., comes from Vietnam vets. I base my statement primarily on (1) my experiences with Vietnam vets in my community, (2) reading the MSM and online sources (not surprisingly, you and I read many of the same blogs), and (3) noticing what seem to be more hostile or critical comments left at blogs by people who self-identify as Vietnam vets. I do not believe there is a large absolute number of Vietnam vets who are critical of the war effort, but it seems there might be a disproportionate percentage of Vietnam vets who feel this way compared to US veterans who served during other time periods.

    Is this consistent with your experiences and, if so, why do you think this is?

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  15. Goddamn terrorists get pizza and fast food while all I can afford is Ramen and Store-brand hotdogs..

    Anyway, thanks for the great story, Stashiu.. and thanks for bringing to us, Patterico..Good stuff.

    AndrewGurn (c37ea2)

  16. [...] Perceived rat cage torture (how I felt in the MRI), fictional rat cage torture (the movie), and actual rat cage torture (apparently the rat torture actually consisted of placing the rat in a cage on the victim’s belly, and putting hot coals on top of the cage, causing the rats to try to burrow to safety through the person) are all very different things. The press seems to feel that torture is in the eye of the beholder – if the terrorists, or suspected terrorists, call it torture, it must be torture. I suspect most Americans have a very different concept of torture than things like stress positions, cold rooms, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve seen variations on those themes in the Catholic grammar school I attended. Try kneeling on rice for 15 minutes, or kneeling with arms outstretched and a dictionary in the palm of each hand. It’s lousy, but it’s not torture. Definitions notwithstanding, what is actually happening at Gitmo? The final installment at Patterico’s with a Gitmo Army nurse who dealt with detainees in his job as a mental health care professional has the scoop. Among other things being administered at Gitmo, the dreaded comfy chair is regularly utilized. Rich Lowry said this: [...]

    Pursuing Holiness » Blog Archive » The Rat Cage Torture (bc33d8)

  17. Bravo Patterico and Stashiu3…bravo!

    perspecuity (cf60be)

  18. Re: 11, 15:

    Those who don’t remember and learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Far from “compensating for failures of the past,” most dinosaurs are trying to avoid repeating those failures (although some of the socialist dinosaurs are trying to relive past “glories” of the “Summer of Love”).

    The parallels between the VN era protests and the current “hate America” ranters are *directly* related. I alluded to that earlier when I opined that many of those who were the protesters and abused returning VN vets entered journalism and academia and either still hold those positions or “educated” the current batch.

    The conservatives and patriots (the “silent majority”) of that era (aka “the greatest generation”) simply “sucked it up” and went to work to produce the great wealth our country enjoys today.

    We abandoned VietNam because the loudmouths convinced Congress that it was politically advantageous for them to quit paying for our involvement there once they won the ’74 elections. That is likely to happen with Iraq and GWOT as well.

    I too notice that VN vets (especially combat vets) are among the most critical and I think it is because they are afraid of a repeat of the consequences (disrespect for soldiers and US). I also believe many of those who have witnessed first-hand the horrors of combat genuinely wish to spare others that horror and trauma.

    Other VN vets who are or have been in politics seek to exploit that experience for political “credibility” including, John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, John Murtha, John McCain and others.

    John Kerry himself admitted as much when he stated that he appeared before the Senate hearings in the 70s to criticize the war because he felt that it would be politically advantageous for him after having served in it. We’re now seeing several Iraq/Afghanistan vets following that same path.

    Dubya (c16726)

  19. #15 DRJ

    I do not believe there is a large absolute number of Vietnam vets who are critical of the war effort, but it seems there might be a disproportionate percentage of Vietnam vets who feel this way compared to US veterans who served during other time periods.
    Is this consistent with your experiences and, if so, why do you think this is?

    I believe you are correct that the numbers are not large, I have received overwhelming support and respect from veterans of VietNam, even online (not an area known for excess civility). Some have disagreed with my perspective, but just as I respect their contributions, they have largely respected mine. For anyone, veteran or no, who wants to get snarky… well, I think I’ve been appropriately corrective ;)

    My opinion, as far as percentages go, they seem to mirror the general population. I would be interested if anyone has looked at this.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  20. Thanks for your response. I don’t want to seem critical of Vietnam vets. I’m grateful for their service in a particularly difficult time. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to notice organizations like this.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  21. Begg himself…apparently is repeating terrorist lies and myths!

    Mr Begg was incarcerated at Guantánamo while the directive to inflict pain (called “coercive techniques” by some, “torture” by others) upon the detainees in order to extract information from them was in effect. Stashiu’s tour of duty began after Begg had been released and after the directive had been rescinded. While it’s possible that Mr Begg or Stashiu is lying, we have no proof of either. It’s also possible that the discrepancy in their accounts arises from the differences in policies and conditions at the respective times each one was at Guantánamo

    Rick (ffb229)

  22. #21 DRJ

    You can truly find all kinds of people in this world. Are you familiar with the Neturei Karta? They are an ultra-orthodox group of Jews who are anti-Israel. I would contend that, while they are consistently present in a population, both these types of anti-survival/self-condemning personalities are limited to the extreme far end of the bell curve. They should be allowed to speak their minds, if only to provide reality-testing material for the rest of mankind. Just my opinion, YMMV. Take heart, I am confused by them too so you’re not alone.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  23. Stashiu and Patterico, thanks so much for the series. I looked forward to each new installment. It’s just great to read something that seems fair and honest DIRECTLY from a person that was in the middle of it.

    Just as I was coming to today’s post, however, I couldn’t help seeing the new headline on my Yahoo home page “AP Learns Gitmo guards brag of beatings” here.

    Once again, the source is NOT first-hand, but rather someone stationed at Camp Pendleton who “heard stories” from those formerly at Gitmo. It’s amazing how stories like this go right up to the top of the list, but stories like yours go unheard?

    rightonq (0f1db6)

  24. #25 rightonq

    It’s amazing how stories like this go right up to the top of the list, but stories like yours go unheard?

    Well… it’s like this…. *cough*… I mean… *hack/wheeze*… It’s very simple really… bwahahahaha. *snort* Sorry, I’ll try to compose myself and answer later if Patterico doesn’t address it first. ;)

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  25. I was wondering if you might comment on this AP story entitled “AP learns Gitmo guards brag of beatings”

    Francis (407362)

  26. Stashiu, I believe we served together in GTMO. I was the N7 and later N3 of the Navy Guard Battalion from September of 05 to February of 06. You may not remember me since we only met sporadically. Hopefully my handle below will jog your memory. Just wanted to say it was a pleasure reading this interview and I congratulate you on making it home in one piece. It was an honor serving with you and I hope you enjoy your well-earned retirement.

    ltugo (3d7850)

  27. #27 Francis

    Please read rightonq’s post at #25, then look at rightonq’s link within that post, followed by this link here, then read my response in #26. If you have a follow-up question about GTMO, I’ll try to answer as best I can. Thanks.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  28. #28 ltugo

    Stashiu, I believe we served together in GTMO. I was the N7 and later N3 of the Navy Guard Battalion from September of 05 to February of 06. You may not remember me since we only met sporadically. Hopefully my handle below will jog your memory. Just wanted to say it was a pleasure reading this interview and I congratulate you on making it home in one piece. It was an honor serving with you and I hope you enjoy your well-earned retirement.

    Comment by ltugo — 10/6/2006 @ 1:21 pm

    I certainly do Chief and right back at you. You and the rest of the guard force are the biggest reason I’m in one piece. I can be forgetful like anybody else and all the MA’s there were top-rate, keeping us protected. I’ve been embarrassed at all the praise, especially at the beginning of threads… you guys are the real heroes and if we ever meet in RL, the drink’s are on me (up to whatever amount my wife limits me too that is!) ;)

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  29. Fantastic interview, thank you so much Stashiu.

    I think Michael Totten‘s work is great; just found out he is putting out a Pamphlet!

    One way to beat MSM, along with taping interviews, is to ask the interveiwer questions, too. And publish the answers.

    Perhaps in a pamphlet — like Tom Paine did many, many years ago.

    The most important thing about Vietnam is what it would have taken to win: staying 17 more years from 1972 (33 from Tonkin in ’64) — until 1989 with the Wall falling.
    Time.
    We “lost” because in 1974 the US voters, disgusted with Nixon, voted for too many Democrats, who cut funding for our corrupt, incompetent, cowardly allies. (We lost even after previously sending 500 000 plenty of troops, no big battles lost.)

    We will only win this Long War after a long time. What to do about dangerous detainees will remain an issue.

    I like the idea, Cardinal Fang, of the Comfy Chair.

    Tom Grey - Liberty Dad (5c978f)

  30. I am a Vietnam era veteran and I think many of the people who identify themselves as veterans are lying just like they did in the 60′s. The closest some of them ever came to combat was when they slipped under the fence into Canada.

    Jim (2d7ba6)

  31. Stashiu,

    Thank you very much to you, and all of your comrades at arms for working so hard to keep the rest of us safe.

    Home safe to you all, whatever your theatre of operations!

    God Bless.

    k. smart (6f6cab)

  32. Stashiu; thanks again for sharing your experiences and insights with us. I also want to applaud and thank you for the honorable way in which you performed your duties. Despite my serious reservations about the Guantánamo mission, it’s obvious that you conducted yourself admirably; your service is a credit to healthcare providers and soldiers everywhere.

    I ask that you indulge me a little and allow me to respectfully challenge some of your comments related to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Last year alone, the ICRC visited more than one-half million prisoners of war and detainees (including those of Guantánamo)in more than 80 countries with a mission “to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners of war and other detainees held during war or situations of internal violence.”

    Since you have told us that you do not trust the ICRC, if you were ever unfortunate enough to find yourself detained under the control of hostile forces, would you want the ICRC to have access to you? Would you cooperate with them or refuse to allow their visits? As a soldier and a healthcare professional, you would be protected by the 1st and 3rd Geneva Conventions, but suppose you were detained while not in uniform or providing medical services: if you complained that you had been mistreated or tortured, how would you like the ICRC to address your claim? What would you recommend the ICRC do differently with your complaint that it’s not doing with the complaints of the Guantánamo detainees to better earn your trust and respect?

    Again, I submit these hypothetical questions as a respectful challenge, and I thank you in advance for your response.

    Rick

    Rick (c4e376)

  33. Stashiu3 #24,

    No, I haven’t heard of the Neturei Karta and I appreciate the information. One of the best things about the internet and especially websites like Patterico’s is that they help me learn new things every day. I will read more about the Neturei Karta and I agree it’s an interesting phenomenon.

    This series and your input have provided me with valuable information about GTMO. The only remaining question I have that I haven’t seen addressed is this: What can I do to help our military personnel serving at GTMO and elsewhere?

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  34. Jim #32,

    You may be right – I think some Vietnam vets have even written on this subject – and thank you for your service.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  35. Stashiu,

    As have so many others, let me thank you for your generosity and candor in the answers and discussion you provided Patterico for this series. As a retired Army officer, I feel such dismay and anger when I see these MSM “journalists” and “reporters” willing to simply outright believe what our enemy “forces” tell them, while disputing and/or throwing in disclaimers about something not being corroborated when told something by our own troops. It is appalling, disgusting, and thoroughly discredits their profession — and it also demonstrates (at least for me) a serious character flaw in those who do this. Your information confirms for me what I have felt all this time as regards our troops’ performance in this facility (and, truthfully, throughout this GWOT). We in our family take service to our country very seriously, as between my father and his three sons, we have served in four separate wars and an expeditionary tour. In fact, my baby brother just returned this summer from a year in Ramadi. Also have a nephew in BCT right now and a cousin due to go over in the spring (at the latest). Thanks so much for your service, your cool head, your professionalism, and all that goes with all of them.

    Patterico, thanks for exercising your right to a free press as a citizen of this country (as opposed to those who believe they have it because they are journalists or reporters or other media officials). This series should be required reading for all who want to get a primary perspective on what happens at GITMO. It clearly beats the other accounts from lawyers and other self serving groups, at least insofar as this is from an actual participant who has read the manual and understands what it means. Thanks again for taking the opportunity to bring this to the world!

    MikeW (71415b)

  36. Not to be snarky, but I distinguish between “VietNam Era” vets and “VietNam War (combat)” vets. I believe the former classification includes those who served only in Europe, S.Korea, etc. through May 1975 when the last choppers flew off the Saigon embassy roof. Most combat troops were out of ‘Nam by the end of ’74 if I recall correctly.

    Tom Grey hit it on the head (#31) with the disgust over Nixon. I would add that Nixon inflamed the “don’t trust the government” attitude the Left had long before ’74 and caused a lot of conservatives to accept that view: funny how those same lefties have always maintained that the only solution to social problems is a bigger “nanny government.” 8-\

    Dubya (c16726)

  37. Stashui,

    Thanks for doing a good job of sharing our experience here at GTMO. I was an enlisted man, inside the wire, during the same period Feb 05-06. I think you did a splendid job, explaining a lot of things that many of us have to remain silent about.

    I know only that I will always be proud of the stoic and professional demenure of our young soldiers, who continue to care for their charges despite the constant storm of insults and abuse from the detainees, and the criticism of “useful idiots” on the outside. They are young heroes, that will always be over-looked, but do their families and upbringing proud, by their great service and dedication.

    Quiet Dave (518e48)

  38. #34 Rick

    Very good questions and I understand your point. ICRC is a fine organization at heart and the staff have the noblest of intentions. If I gave any other impression, let me correct it. It becomes personal for me when my country is considered guilty until proven innocent, which seems to be too often the case. As individuals, ICRC staff were very personable and went out of their way to try and make life easier for detainees. Their patience and compassion are laudable. As an organization, I wasn’t convinced they understood the reality that if released, many jihadis would return to the battle. This made trust on my part difficult and to avoid creating bad feelings, I avoided them when possible. Most people can tell when someone doesn’t trust them. It was better to have others (yes, without my bias, deserved or not) interact with them. Some people value compassion over anything else. I believe that compassion, untempered by reason, is irresponsible in the extreme.

    If I were captured or detained? The people we fight now are not Vietnamese or Germans who took prisoners. No matter how much they violated the Geneva Conventions, they at least felt some responsibility for those under their control. Our enemy does not take prisoners. Jessica Lynch and the others were not captured by jihadis, they were captured by Iraqi soldiers. This is a huge difference. How many Americans or Coalition forces have been captured and survived? I would not expect an opportunity to meet with the ICRC, just like Hezbollah refused to let them check on the two Israeli soldiers that were kidnapped into Lebanon. If I deploy again, and it’s a combat area, my family will consider me dead if there is any claim of captured or missing. I wouldn’t want them to live with that uncertainty, because in my mind it wouldn’t be uncertain, just unknown, if you catch my meaning.

    When ICRC successfully mediates for a Coalition or Israeli soldier, I may reconsider. Until then, I remain wary. Very thoughtful and challenging questions to say the least, thank you. I hope I have answered both the substance and intent of them.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  39. Guantanamo Bay Live V…

    Patterico’s friend answers questions from the Peanut Gallery:That was from before I got there, but sounds possible.
    IRF [Immediate Reaction Force] teams were routinely taped and that the
    tape is missing smells to me.
    What the story doesn’t say is…

    Dawnsblood (b5f39f)

  40. Tom (#31):

    While there certainly were corrupt and incompetent leaders in South VietNam, I think a lot of our guys who fought alongside their troops (ARVN) would disagree with anyone calling them cowards.

    Dubya (c16726)

  41. #38 Quiet Dave

    Thank you for your service. My job was actually made easier by the fine work all the enlisted soldiers and sailors accomplished under extremely stressful conditions. I’m proud to have been a part of it and pleased that you found these posts fairly represent our shared experience. Same as for Chief earlier, your money is no good at any place drinks are served if we’re there at the same time. Consider giving Patterico your email and perhaps I can show that the offer is sincere. I still say, “Honor Bound” every single time I salute. :)

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  42. #35 DRJ

    There are several support organizations that support the troops. One that was particularly welcome was called “Operation Shoebox” and they will support deployed personnel in Cuba. I contacted them while I was there and received almost 5 dozen ‘Care Packages’ to pass out (I was pretty popular that day, but it was difficult getting them all inspected before entering the Wire to pass them out, lol)

    Feel free to contact them here and see what they need. Most of the others I contacted focused their efforts on Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing wrong with that, but my guys were in Cuba. There may be other groups, but that’s the only one I know for sure. Thank you for asking.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  43. Very thoughtful and challenging questions to say the least, thank you. I hope I have answered both the substance and intent of them.

    You have, and quite well, I must say.

    Thanks. Rick

    Rick (c4e376)

  44. …New war, new enemy, new rules. New generation of warriors…

    I will agree with the new generation of warriors bit: our guys in VietNam were largely conscripts, especially in the later years when casualties were highest. Many were volunteers as well.

    Todays warriors are *all* volunteers and I have nothing but respect for all vets and salute them all.

    Not sure I agree with the “new rules” though. The only rule the grunts follow is “protect your buddies.”

    Dubya (c16726)

  45. Stashiu3,

    This is from the 6OCT06 Reuters website and quotes a Marine Corps Sergeant’s sworn affidavit about treatment of detainees at GTMO.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N06202683.htm

    I wonder if the behavior of both the detainees and the US service people at GTMO has occurred along a spectrum since GTMO opened. What are your thoughts?

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  46. #47 Patriot Gurl

    I think this has been covered in the other thread starting here . I’ve been trying to follow this pretty close since people keep asking about it. After you’ve read the comments in the link, can you help me find anything about how anyone knows these guys are even sailors, much less had been to GTMO? I really don’t think there is much to the story, but I’d be interested in your views after you read the thread. I’ll keep an eye on both threads, so respond on whichever you like. Thanks.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  47. Sorry about that. For some reason (? middle aged brain syndrome-sigh) I thought the earlier link referred to rumors that were flying at a stateside base.

    I understood the Reuters story to imply that the Marine Sgt was talking to service people at a bar at the base on GTMO, perhaps the one next to the Jerk Shack.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  48. I understood the story to say that the Sergeant was a defense attorney who heard the story from a woman who heard the purported admissions on the island at the GTMO base from some drunken guys claiming to be sailors.

    But it was a badly written story, so I could be wrong.

    Patterico (de0616)

  49. I know the syndrome well, lol. And it does imply that this was at GTMO. I never saw or heard anything like this from anyone there. You’re talking about the Jerk House, right? I never went, but I saw the sign for it every time I went to the NEX.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  50. I understood the story to say that a Marine Corps Sgt., whose MOS is Legalman, told the JAG Corps attorney with whom she is assigned to work, about a conversation she had at a bar with men whom she judged to be in the Navy. I would hope that a Marine would know a sailor when she saw one.

    I don’t recall the story implying that anyone was intoxicated.

    I believe that Stashiu3′s report of his experience on GTMO is 100% honest and reflects what he saw. But I also believe that it’s possible (as he acknowledged above) that inappropriate behavior occurred. I would hope that others would keep an open mind about that possibility as well.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  51. House! House! House! The brain again! Were you a galley-only eater?

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  52. Patterico,

    Looking at the three versions that have been linked, it looks like it is a female USMC Sergeant who works as a paralegal for one of the attorneys representing detainees. Her affidavit apparently says that she went into the bar and talked with several guys for about an hour. During that hour, she swore she heard them claim to be guards in the Navy working at Camp Delta who routinely abused detainees and gave her graphic examples. She also swore that they laughed about it and implied that this was very common behavior for guards. She then went to make the sworn statement and provided that statement to all the attorneys representing detainees. Is that a fair summary Patriot Gurl?

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  53. Sounds like you’ve been there too.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  54. Stashiu3,

    How come you can say that without all the comma’s and a run-on sentence like when I did? A fair summary indeed.

    Yes, the Pearl of the Antilles is known to me. I’ve enjoyed reading your recollections.

    What I don’t enjoy is anyone impugning the statement of a Marine. She wouldn’t have taken it as far as she did if she didn’t have serious concerns.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  55. PS: You missed out on some good chicken at the Jerk House. Was the Cuban restaurant opened yet when you were there?

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  56. I read only one story and it was badly written. It wasn’t clear to me that the paralegal was the Sergeant. My bad.

    I acknowledge that there is no direct evidence that numerous sailors sitting around bragging about beating detainees in a bar had had even a drop to drink.

    My mind is open to the possibility that it may have happened. Also that it may not have.

    Patterico (de0616)

  57. So she worked for an attorney for a detainee?

    If she identified herself as such to the guards, they might have stupidly joked that they beat detainees, to mock her.

    And she might have taken it seriously.

    You never know.

    Patterico (de0616)

  58. Hey, no need for snark, Patterico, in reference to your middle sentence.

    In vino veritas is my concern.

    But as far as your last sentence, we are in agreement.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  59. Jeez, Patterico, why can’t a cigar just be a cigar? You’re started to sound like one of those people who only believes information that supports their previously held viewpoints. That’s dangerous.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  60. I said I never saw or heard anything like that while I was there. I certainly can’t say what she saw or heard from others. One might resent her impugning several young sailors with nothing more than hearsay, but I’m not a lawyer or policeman. I think waiting to see what an investigation shows would be prudent. Since I clearly don’t have anything to add to this story, that seems the best course as far as the thread goes.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  61. #60 referred to #58. I’ll conform to convention for now on.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  62. #62 Couldn’t agree more, Stashiu3, re: waiting for the results of the investigation. I think it’s possible that she was in a tough spot and decided to let the higher ups sort it out. It may have been a difficult and brave thing to do.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  63. Patterico, see my comment on the other thread. You would not get a search warrant on the basis of this affidavit.

    nk (bfc26a)

  64. Jeez, Patterico, why can’t a cigar just be a cigar? You’re started to sound like one of those people who only believes information that supports their previously held viewpoints. That’s dangerous.

    As I said:

    My mind is open to the possibility that it may have happened. Also that it may not have.

    Patterico (de0616)

  65. In vino veritas is my concern.

    I happen to believe that “in vino veritas” is nonsense.

    Patterico (de0616)

  66. Well, then, my friend, we are indeed on the same page. But no need for snarkiness in discussing the bases of our opinions.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  67. #67 So does Mel Gibson ;>

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  68. Snarkiness can be fun. I was simply making the point why I suspect these folks were drinking.

    Patterico (de0616)

  69. And you seem to miss the point that, if she went into a bar identifying herself as a paralegal representing detainees, and asked guards whether they beat detainees, they might (if they were stupid and/or drunk) think it’s funny to be sarcastic and pretend they do. “Oh, yeah, we beat them up all the time! HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, we smash their faces into walls! HAHAHAHAHA!”

    That would be stupid. Like something a drunken person might say. But it’s a possibility.

    Patterico (de0616)

  70. So, PG, you sound like you are/were at Gitmo.

    Tell us more about yourself.

    Patterico (de0616)

  71. #70 I all for snarky-fun. That’s the problem with the internet. No prosody. I just hope you respect the gurl Marine at face value until you have further info.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  72. #73 You’ll also notice that I have the endearing habit of leaving out letters etc. As we become better acquainted, I’ll drop my bad grammer on you too.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  73. in vino veritas

    I am not convinced by this either. Alcohol is a disinhibitor without doubt. From a psychological view, you can take the position that someone who is normally shy, withdrawn, inexperienced, and under a lot of stress (say, young guards at a high-profile detention facility) might, if intoxicated, be more prone to braggadocio and hyperbole rather than truth. I don’t think anyone has been disrespectful of the Marine Sergeant, just speculating.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  74. #71 I didn’t miss that point, Patterico. I don’t think, however, if that scenario occurred as you posit, that the Marine would have taken it outside the bar.

    #72 Patterico, before I go all spilling my guts over a beer with ya, send me an e-mail and I’ll do some ‘splaining.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  75. I must have read the same article that Patterico read because I don’t think it said that the bar was in Cuba. The inference was that the bar was at Camp Pendleton. I think that makes a difference – for example, the men out of uniform were more likely to be sailors and “Gitmo guards” – but it also heightens the possibility that they would realize how much trouble they could get into by talking about abuse.

    I assume that GTMO is a little bit like a private club where the American personnel know each other, if only marginally or by sight. A new face like the Marine paralegal’s might be noticed, especially if the newbie identified herself as working for defense counsel. Maybe these men thought she was one of them and they could talk freely about their abuse of detainees OR that they could joke about abuse and she would realize it was a joke. On the other hand, maybe they knew she wasn’t one of them and wanted to yank her chain.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  76. Thank you for this interview and your service, as I thank anyone who serves these days. And kudos to Parrerico for his hard work bringing us the information.

    As for the latest reports coming out now. Pfft. I give such reports very little notice, especially from someone reporting scuttlebutt. There is nothing more unreliable than scuttlebutt, as anyone who spent five minutes in the service learns, even as he or she engages in it.

    I think what bothers me the most is that we have people in the media who are not just willing, but eager to pass along anything that will harm the troops and America. That there is an audience for these people disturbs me as well. There is no understanding for mistakes. There is no understanding about those few who do wrong; any one individual is found to be an excuse to paint all with the same wrong, regardless of the evidence to the contrary. If we were as bad as we are painted, things would be very different than they are. For one thing, few would know anything because no one would be left alive to tell the tale.

    One thing about Gitmo, the prisoners there are treated a hell of a lot better than anyone in a brig. How anyone can think that is right, I don’t know.

    oldsalt (a862d2)

  77. Stashiu3,

    I didn’t feel you disrespected the Marine Sgt. What bothered me was the suggestion (or perhaps just joke in which case I am not bothered) that a Marine Sgt would make a sworn statement either to impugn a sailor or that she didn’t believe in.

    I’ve seen EtOH go every which way in terms of effect. In vino veritas, braggadacio (I CANNOT SPELL) are all in the differential.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  78. #79 Stas-suggestion by Patterico, not you. Some day I will learn to proofread before I hit send. This doesn’t appear to be that day.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  79. Again, I know the feeling, lol.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  80. Stashiu, thank you for your service, sir, and for your willingness to be interviewed by Patrick. Patrick, thank you for what I know was a great deal of work.

    I’m a Navy vet from the Vietnam era. I have always been careful to phrase it that way, because I never served in or off shore of Vietnam. I was in signals intelligence in the Atlantic theatre of operations.

    I agree with Jim. Just because someone claims to be a Vietnam vet doesn’t mean they were. Many of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (John Kerry’s group) never even served in the military, much less ever set foot in Vietnam. One guy who claimed to have flown tons of missions in Nam was actually an Air Force Sergeant who never left stateside but may have once flown over Vietnam in a cargo plane. (Obviously he wasn’t a pilot.)

    Even a certain Democrat Senator from Iowa has claimed to be a Vietnam vet, until it was proven he never set foot in Vietnam and he was forced to shut up.

    Most guys I know who served in Nam won’t talk about it unless prodded, and they damn sure won’t make a big deal out of it. I have a good friend who was a Marine machine gunner who was in the hot zone his entire tour (somewhere near the NV border), and I’m the first person (other than his Nam buddies) he’s ever opened up to about his service there.

    True heroes don’t boast. When prodded they will tell their stories, but they always credit everyone else but themselves. The surest sign you’re dealing with a liar is when they tell you all about their courageous acts under fire. There’s also the guys who let others magnify their stories without correcting them, like a certain former Democrat Congressman from Georgia who milked his “wounded vet” status for all it was worth, even though he lost his legs due to his own carelessness and stupidity.

    As to the charge that Vietnam was a war of conscripts, the only service that has ever been non-volunteer (AFAIK) is the Army. The Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard have always been all volunteer forces. (And yes, the Coast Guard served in Nam too.) Furthermore, WWII had a large number of draftees, and they were “the Greatest Generation” according to Tom Brokaw, so don’t bad mouth the draftees from Nam. The vast majority of them served with honor and courage, even if they didn’t want to be there. My cousin, Donald, was a draftee, and his name is on the wall.

    So don’t badmouth Vietnam vets. They deserve the same respect every fighting man and woman deserves. Most of the bad stories about Vietnam vets are either bald-faced lies, outright exaggerations or represent a minuscule proportion of the proud men and women who served in that war.

    antimedia (0fb2d5)

  81. Hear! Hear! Antimedia!

    Any and all vet-bashing sickens me.

    Patriot Gurl (6ea03e)

  82. #82 antimedia

    Well said sir.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  83. #21 –”Veterans for Peace” has a three-word name, of which all but the conjunction is usually false.

    Here’s an example:

    http://www2.humboldt.edu/%7Emerge/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&page_id=977

    “During training when I was a SEAL my instructor explained to us that our job as SEALs involved using violence and fear to reorient the political standing of a group of people our government was targeting,” Clump said. “We were told that actions such as kidnappings, beheadings, assassinations of civilians, etc. was part of our job description.”

    When was he a SEAL that (1) you had an instructor, singular; (2) they took morons who can’t string a sentence together; and (3) the essence of SEALhood was terrorism? Well, never actually. He was never as SEAL, according to Veriseal.org:

    http://sec-global.com/services/ctp/vsg/news/
    “Jim Clump, a (fake) former Navy SEAL working with Veterans for Peace, recently talked to students at Humboldt County high schools about his (fake) military experiences while suggesting alternatives to military service…”

    Then there was “Iraq Veterans Against The War” and Jesse Macbeth. Remember him?

    http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/05/advice_for_jess.html

    Then there was antiwar comic-book weenie Micah Wright, whose claim to fame was that he was not just a typical comic-book nerd, but a Ranger turned comic-book nerd by the horrors of having to massacre skillions in Panama:

    http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/weblog/permalink/micah_wright/

    The IVAW and VFP are descended from the VVAW and share its Marxist orientation. They also share, as indicated above (and more other times than I could count) a fondness for phonies. The co-leaders of VVAW were John F. Kerry, who bravely released his military records only to friendly reporters, including The Boston Globe’s Mike Kranish, a de facto Kerry campaign staffer, and Al Hubbard, who told the world he was a bomber pilot who was wounded in combat in vietnam. (Hubbard was an enlisted airman who was never combat aircrew and never even flew over Vietnam or its coastal waters). What Kerry and Hubbard did have in common was a flair for telling horrifying atrocity stories that have never been substantiated.

    The Vietnam Veterans of America is also descended from the VVAW, although mostly from the non-Marxist wing. It also has a severe phony problem. A few years ago another vet group scrubbed a VVA chapter and national officers’ roster against a master DOD Southeast Asia roster and awards databases, and found that almost all the Service Cross and Silver Star claims were false, and about a third of organization officers were not Vietnam veterans.

    I’m not saying there are no legit veterans who are politically on the left, and I’m not saying that right-wing “veterans” aren’t sometimes phonies, too. Veteran claims are ALWAYS something that needs the Reagan treatment: “Trust, but verify.”

    Phonies often claim to have served in small, elite units and those units have formal or informal networks that can usually verify (or reject) a claimant in near real time. The SEAL phony-busters at Veriseal.org are particularly good. POWnetwork.org is also first-rate. For Army Special Forces vets try sflistteamhouse.com (leave a posting in the guestbook with a way to contact you). Rangers and Marine Snipers (two other common phony claims) have very active organizations. Google is your pal….

    Most phony veterans are phony in other parts of their lives too, tending to criminality, bigamy and exploitation of women’s affections, and just general loser-ness. I give you one closing example of a Vietnam phony (and phony author… phony artist… and phony Indian): Ward Churchill.

    http://www.pirateballerina.com/files/churchill_vietnam_fraud.htm

    So next time you hear some guy saying how “the horror” of warfare turned him around into a a sign-carrying International ANSWER droid, just put your common sense in overdrive, and run him by the real guys from his unit. In one case in a thousand he might be the real thing.

    Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien (88bf29)

  84. #44 Stashiu3,

    Thank you for telling me about Operation Shoebox. I have contacted them about my donation because I want to make sure it is directed to the people stationed at GTMO.

    Your comment made me think about how much public scrutiny we’ve heaped on those who serve at GTMO but how infrequently we think of them otherwise. For my part, I promise it won’t happen again.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  85. #86 DRJ

    Thank you sir, I am truly moved. We really enjoyed the care packages we received as each had not only lots of little consumables (shampoo, baby wipes, candy, those little weenie thingies in a can that I can’t remember the name of now, lol), they also had a lot of little handmade mementos, socks, a card or letter, pens/pencils… all kinds of very nice stuff. One other thing each had in common was a star cut from an American flag that was retired and ready for destruction. It was attached to a little note that reads, “I am part of our American Flag. I have flown over a home in Florida. I can no longer fly. The sun & winds has caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me with you in battle.” The reason I can quote that with perfect confidence is that I still carry mine wherever I go and look at it nearly every time I open my wallet. Operation Shoebox is based in Florida, but the people behind it are All-American in my book.

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  86. Antimedia,

    I believe I asked the initial question about Vietnam vets that I hope did not trigger your thoughtful comment #82, but I fear it might have. I did not intend to be disrespectful in raising that subject but I don’t blame you if you feel that way. I appreciate your service and honor your cousin Donald for his ultimate sacrifice.

    I thought more about this subject today. I have the utmost gratitude and respect for every person that serves our country, but I especially respect the Vietnam vets because of what they had to endure in the public arena. Today’s military is certainly getting a taste of that treatment but, having seen the Vietnam experience, perhaps they were a little prepared for it (if that’s possible). The Vietnam vets were not, and I think their treatment is one of the low points in American history.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  87. #87 Stashiu3,

    That was poetry.

    Patterico, I hope you include the last part of comment #86 (concerning the star on the American flag) in your summary post.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  88. antimedia:

    If you’re refering to my posts please read them again. I don’t believe any of my statements were disrespectful of vets, conscript or otherwise.

    You’re right that only Army took conscripts, but I know *many* who were notified of draft status who chose to “volunteer” into other services instead of going Army between ’69 & ’74. Not exactly the same as volunteering when there is no draft.

    Dubya (c16726)

  89. instead of going Army between ‘69 & ‘74.

    Correction: draft ended in 1973 in US.

    Dubya (c16726)

  90. re #82 & #90
    It is not true that only the Army took conscripts during the Vietnam War. The Marine Corps also took draftees when recruiting did not provide enough volunteers.

    USAF 66-74 (0d3e75)

  91. I just wanted to say thank you to Stashiu for the positive feedback on Operation Shoebox. Our mission is to let all troops know that they are cared about and this is just a small way to do it. Thank you for your service to our country, you all are very appreciated. And thank you to the gentlemen that brought this article to my attention.

    Mary
    Operation Shoebox

    Mary Harper (71415b)

  92. #93 Mary

    Our mission is to let all troops know that they are cared about and this is just a small way to do it.

    Mary, mission definitely accomplished in our case, your support was a huge hit with our troops. It didn’t seem small in any way to us, so please allow me to thank you again. Please pass those thanks along to everyone involved in your wonderful efforts.

    Stash

    Stashiu3 (168d43)

  93. Stash – Again, a heartfelt thank you. You are a credit to this country and to the human race!
    Sincerely,
    Southern Fried Yankee

    SFY (b1956a)

  94. Gitmo aka Guantanamo Bay…

    I will leave you with this last thought. One must respond to a threat and these prisoners are still trying to kill Gitmo’s guards, even in prison. They are terrorists and they will never stop trying to kill as many people as they can…

    Wake up America (a91ef5)

  95. Stashiu3,

    Operation Shoebox takes donations to fill specific requests but they don’t have any requests from GTMO right now. Thus, current donations will go elsewhere. I’m happy to donate to whoever is in need but if you have any contacts at GTMO, please ask them to consider making a request. I’m sure Mary and Operation Shoebox will see they are taken care of.

    Thanks again.

    DRJ (ccb97e)

  96. Patterico,
    I would like to communicate directly with Stashiu off line if at all possible.
    Chris Easton
    Cdr USN (Ret)

    Chris (318cc1)

  97. [...] Part 1 — Introduction Part 2 — Stashiu (name used by the nurse to protect his identity) arrives at GTMO, and tells us what the terrorists are like. Part 3 — Hunger strikes, suicides and suicide attempts, and mental illness. Part 4 — Treatment of the detainees Part 5 — Stashiu reacts to Big Media pieces about GITMO. [...]

    Bizzyblog » Weekend Question 2: What’s the Best Way to Learn about What’s REALLY Happening at Gitmo? (34f45e)

  98. The detainees can smoke? When will Americans enjoy such freedom?

    Brett (270ba5)

  99. Does no one else get the impression that the detainees are treated too well? The colonel should re-examine his priorites.

    Brett (270ba5)

  100. Stash, Patterico,
    BZ! Now if the MSM would only learn what real reporting looks like… thanks again gentlement.

    paul from fl (464e99)

  101. Stashiu3,

    My thanks to you for your service to the Nation!

    When I started reading I was struck by your nickname and the associations that had with me growing up in an extended family. That name was used for a very few people who were strong on comfort but firm in those things that needed to be done from the heart. Thus I am obviously biased, but what you have recounted all affirms that opinion and so my thanks for bringing back some loved memories to me.

    The time for fighting past wars is over and well over now. What you have done is apparently one of those jobs that ‘Americans just won’t do’, but we still find people who are capable and willing to volunteer for them just the same.

    From my Land of Grey where black and white are not so distinct and color leaves life, thank you for affirming that such color still exists and that it is worth fighting for.

    ajacksonian (03662a)

  102. [...] Part Five: Stashiu reacts to Big Media pieces about GTMO. [...]

    Euphoric Reality - » Life Inside Club Gitmo (88e527)

  103. I’ve read all the interviews AND the comments. There is no way I could serve at GTMO with the restraint that you and those young guards used. I was a Navy Corpsman in VN and served with the Marines. Confronted by the inmates as you and the guards were, I don’t know how well I could restrain myself.

    People on the left have no concept of the word “torture”. You can read about torture used in days gone by, but methods used today in several countries are terrifying beyond measure. Methods used by the jihadis I just can’t imagine happening! How can one human do those things to another human being? And they seem to enjoy it! Our guys may not be perfect, but our guys (and gals of course) have to be the most professional, most restrained, most disciplined people that have ever worn a military uniform.

    I know that what the men of my fathers generation in the Great War were heroes for what they went through. Those who served from 1953 to 2002 had a free ride compared to WWII and the current war on terror. Today there is no uniformed enemy. They can use any method and stand behind any woman and child and will be protected – and lionized by the MSM. Our folks have to not only face a terrorist enemy, but also must face a hostile media and even more hostile political left. I served ’67 to ’88, 16 yrs at sea. My wife served ’77 to ’97, 5 yrs at sea. With all that, we are in awe at what you and your comrades in arms are doing for us today. With all my heart, thank you sir for serving with honor.

    Subdoc

    Shep Kuester (5eb813)

  104. Stashiu – you seem to have an excuse for everything with regard to the mistreatment of the detainees. Honestly, don’t you think your view is a bit bias because you are trained not to trust the detainees and, to an extent, not view them as human? Can you honestly say that the guards have done nothing wrong, and the “few” wrong things they have done, in your opinion, do you really think each and every 1 of them was provoked? you don’t think that maybe there is some merit to what these prisoners are saying? they have no rights, so even if they were being mistreated, don’t you think that the obvious disadvantage in power by the detainees would make them much less likely to be heard and taken seriously then that of the guards? While I am sure that some of the detainee-abuse claims have been lies, I refuse to believe that all are and I refuse to believe that the ones that are true were all provoked intitally by the detainees. In an earlier part, you even said that if you came face to face with any of them after you retire, you would immidiately kill him, and if you later learned that his intentions were not to hurt you, you “could live with” that decision. In other words, you would not feel guilty? You comment on the lack of guilt by the terrorists, which I don’t doubt is true, but could you honestly say your lack of guilt over that is any better? Could you honestly say your view of these prisoners is fair and humane?

    LinZ (b131c5)

  105. LinZ,

    We view them as human and nothing in our training or instructions says differently. If you read the rest of the posts, you can read what I honestly believe. I can only talk about what I saw and heard, not about claims that I didn’t see. Your refusal to believe that the detainee statements are all lies is just as wrong as anyone who refuses to believe that any might be true. I haven’t addressed those, I’ve only talked about what jihadi doctrine says and what I experienced. That’s ok, but unless you have something besides just your belief, there’s no point in discussing it further.

    If you read all of the posts, and don’t take things out of context, I explain why I would consider myself targeted if I ran into a detainee here. If you had been threatened with the death of your family while you watch, followed by your own death, you might feel a bit protective of their safety as well. I never said I wouldn’t feel guilty, but I also never said I would… just that I could live with it. But yes, my not having guilt over it would still be better… I didn’t start this fight. Jihadists want to kill, convert, or subjugate us, not compromise. Live and let live is not doctrine for them. Take them at their word on that. And yes, I honestly say my view of these detainees is fair and humane. But sometimes calling a person a sociopath is fair, as is condemning their behavior. That doesn’t mean you treat them inhumanely, just that you don’t have to turn the other cheek and give them another chance to kill you or your brothers-in-arms. I think most of us would love to be able to let them go and sin no more. Too many of them wouldn’t follow the same plan though, and many who were already released have rejoined the fight. Doesn’t that suggest that, if anything, release criteria may be too loose? Not my place to say, that’s for people much higher than I will ever be. We just do the best job possible under very difficult circumstances.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  106. [...] A blog called Patterico’s Pontifications has an interesting five part (1 2 3 4 5) interview with a Major at Guantanamo known to the terrorists there as “Stashiu.” He has been reading and commenting on the blog, and agreed to an interview. [...]

    sammytaylor.net (5c8fa9)

  107. [...] Many Americans may be surprised to hear that interrogations at Gitmo are now optional. (Via Allahpundit, in a fascinating post with a link to Fox News’s Steve Harrigan getting waterboarded.) But I don’t think it will come as a great surprise to those who read my series with Stashiu, the Army nurse who was stationed at Gitmo. Remember what Stashiu said about interrogations: For some, they eagerly await days until “reservation” (interrogation) and there are frequently requests to see their interrogator. This is why I said that some fear to return home or they would be killed as traitors. They get to smoke (sometimes 4 or 5 packs at once, uggh!), watch new-release DVDs that have been screened by Intel so they don’t get current events, eat pizza or fast-food, listen to music, smoke a hooka, etc…. The better stuff they give up, the more the interrogators get for them. All of this has been previously released to the public, but you never hear about it in the MSM. [...]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Gitmo Interrogations Optional (421107)

  108. Stashiu-
    Great interview!

    kitty (659644)

  109. Stashiu3 (and Patterico),

    I was in GTMO from March to December of 2002. I worked in the JIB as an operations NCO.

    Thank you for taking the time to dispel the numerous myths about Guantanamo. I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to relate the human side of the detention mission only to be met with blank stares and outright disbelief.

    I know the mission was a good one, and I’m proud of the work I did. It just makes me sad that when I tell my children about my small part in the GWOT I will have to combat years of accumulated propaganda and lies.

    Information

    Information (f81ab3)

  110. [...] No, I don’t condone torture by anyone for any reason. But I also think that the facile and convenient description of harsh interrogation techniques as torture does us all a disservice on a number of levels. It is a fact that captured enemy combatants would like to withhold information from us that we would like to have; information about how we can more quickly and easily defeat them. Where are they, what are they thinking and planning? Knowing those things that will help us win the war more quickly, and it should be noted that to do so would save lives. Additionally, it seems that waterboarding is used as an interrogation technique far less than the dreaded comfy chair. [...]

    Pursuing Holiness » Blog Archive » Where are the waterboarding pictures? (bc33d8)

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  114. Again, I would like the thank the Major and the author for getting this story out.
    There isn’t much to be done about the conspiracy folks or the extremists, but I know that the military personnel working on the ground in these facilities are put in extremely testing situations daily, and conduct themselves with great professionalism. I personally take pride in how we operated in ’04 and trust that those who replaced us, and those currently conducting detainment operations are doing the best job humanly possible.
    It is a personally and professionally trying assignment, and I challenge anyone who thinks it can be handled better to visit their recruiter today and walk a mile in our boots.

    Taylor (8e6f66)


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