Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – This week, as millions of Americans demand that Guantanamo Bay guards be prosecuted for war crimes, it seems that some of them may be getting jobs as cops instead.
It was recently reported that large numbers of military police officers who were formerly stationed at the infamous torture prisons, are now getting jobs as local cops, and could be coming to a town near you. The Worcester Police department in Massachusetts is testing a pilot program, in which former Guantanamo prison guards will be given jobs as police.
Although it is common practice for police departments to hire from the military, Worcester police sergeant Richard Cipro said that this is the first program in the country to specifically recruits from military prisons. He called the effort a “life-changing opportunity” when speaking to new recruits during a recent training class.
New recruits from Guantanamo Bay receive a full-time, paid 35 week training course which is apparently designed to help them make the transition from military police to neighborhood cop. Each class is filled with dozens of potential recruits, many of whom have worked in Guantanamo Bay. There are many hundreds and even thousands more who worked at lesser known military prison camps that are run in very much the same way, being accepted to police departments nationwide.
Cipro has said that people transitioning from the military require less physical training, which saves the department money in the long-run. However, many have pointed out that this is another example of the blurring lines between the military and the police in America.
Critics of former military personnel working in law enforcement, have argued that departments are contributing to the war-time mentality among police by hiring soldiers that are accustomed to operating in combat conditions. Hiring guards from Guantanamo Bay would be taking this a step further, as the prison has become notorious for widespread torture and abuse.
Guantanamo Bay was in the news again this week, as it was revealed that detainees were regularly killed in the prisons, and their murders covered up and made to look like suicides. By all reports it was the CIA that was involved in carrying out these murders, but it has been well documented for years that guards were required to beat and torture detainees on a regular basis. Even being exposed to such a brutal culture day in and day out should be enough to disqualify a person from working in law enforcement.
Direct insubordination and refusal to carry out acts of assault and torture is extremely rare in the US military, especially at sites like Guantanamo Bay. At Guantanamo Bay specifically, there was just one major case reported where a member of the staff refused to participate in torture. As detainees were being force-fed during a hunger strike, one Navy Nurse stood alone and refused to feed the prisoners against their will. The nurse was swiftly sent home and placed under court martial status with the US military.
Sadly, when it comes time to pick new recruits to transition from the military to a police department, the type of people who get the jobs are not the type of people who refuse orders.
A decade ago, Democracy Now spoke with a former army sergeant, Erik Saar who served as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo Bay for six months. Among the abuses he says he witnessed was sexual abuse, mock interrogations, the use of dogs and a female interrogator smearing what looked like menstrual blood on a Muslim prisoner. He also says children were imprisoned at Guantanamo and that the military ordered them not to speak to the Red Cross.