Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Guantánamo’s former guards: ‘Nobody actually died’ there

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A common thread of discussion for Eric Maddux and other veterans of the Guantánamo Bay prison has been their frustration, over the years, with the government’s image of the 9/11 detainees as inherently dangerous and as threats to the U.S.

“I can’t fathom them. They can’t harm us. That’s just ridiculous,” said Maddux, 58, who served as a flight medic for the Air Force for two years.

“I mean, the guy who killed those kids over there was a green-eyed monster. Why do we scare the daylights out of them?”

He recalled the “crusade” against those captured shortly after the 9/11 attacks, including Saddam Hussein, who was captured and subsequently hanged in 2006 for his alleged role in the mass murder of Iraqi children.

“As far as I’m concerned, the guy who killed those kids over there was a green-eyed monster. Why do we scare the daylights out of them?” – Prison guard Eric Maddux

During the Bush administration, the first four years of a Bush-authorized wartime presidential order allowed both prosecution and indefinite detention of alleged enemy combatants at the Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It was a success story for the Bush Administration, though critics–including President Obama–argued that the base was overly secretive and also lacked appropriate oversight.

Maddux and other former servicemen were among more than 1,100 U.S. and other foreign service members who applied for passage to Cuba.

“I was a little worried,” he admitted. “It’s sort of like going into a war zone. You don’t know what to expect.”

But he traveled to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay for an interview with Fox News and says the drive up to Cuba was uneventful.

“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “They had adequate equipment to secure all the obstacles to get through.”

Then came the long drive to Cuba, through Mexico, and on to the base.

“I didn’t feel like I was in danger, didn’t feel out of control,” he said. “And it wasn’t a situation where I felt that I needed to shrink away from the situation, because you need to be there, you need to be strong.”

Once on the base, Maddux said he and other members of the base’s medical team saw four men in their 20s, who came forward to ask for medical treatment. One of them, the 18-year-old former Taliban soldier, identified himself as Mohammed. Maddux said Mohammed was as friendly as any detainee he had treated.

While Maddux said he was “a little nervous” about the case, he said it seemed that Mohammed was not an operational military threat–and despite the administration’s insistence otherwise, Maddux said he didn’t worry about being sent back to Guantánamo, which he views as a charade.

“I’ll never go back there again,” he said. “For me, it was a mistake to go there in the first place.”

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