The audience included guards and other prison staff. So Kelly, who is commander at the Pentagons Southern Command in Miami, used the occasion to assure them that he knows their prisoners as insult-hurling, America-hating terrorists who are occasionally compliant, most often defiant and often times violent men who splash you with cocktails of filth.
Guantánamo has 166 captives, 86 cleared for release or transfer, and a 2,000-member mostly U.S. Army staff, including a public affairs team that produced the audio tape of the nearly 14-minute speech.
Kelly struck a far different tone than his March testimony to Congress that cast the captives as devastated by the presidents failure to close Guantánamos prison camps. Since then, cooperative captives covered up their surveillance cameras in protest and troops stormed the cellblocks and put much of the prison under lockdown. Some captives retaliated by hurling excrement on the guards, who had to burn as contaminated 50 U.S. Army uniforms.
In his speech, the Marine general told the troops that they dont make policy, just carry it out, and told them he knows they all treat the captives with respect, humanity and dignity.
Guantánamo guards arent allowed to know each captives story not his name nor his status as approved for release in 2010 or held indefinitely. So Kelly filled them in on who theyre guarding: They are among the most violent and hateful men on the planet. Terrorists, extremists, al-Qaida leadership who are in most cases still at war with our country, men who would do us immeasurable harm if they could only find a way.
In June, Kelly disagreed with President Obama that the troops at Guantánamo were force-feeding detainees. He called the protest a hunger strike lite, said all the captives eat sometimes and cast as consensual the enteral feedings that deliver a dose of nutritional supplement into a captives stomach via tubes snaked up a prisoners nostril and down the back of his throat.
The captives pretend to be on hunger strike, said Kelly in a military produced audiotape, then treat with contempt the U.S. Navy medical staff who provide life-giving and at times lifesaving care.
Guard getting new profession
A 21-year-old soldier who has spent less than a year in the toughest of Guantánamos prisons the Camp 5 maximum-security, 100-cell lockup has decided that being a guard is not for her. Some prisoners call you names or refuse to talk to you, she said in an interview, asking that she be publicly identified only by her rank, a specialist, and the first initial of her family name, P.
Its not for everyone, said Specialist P., who joined the Army at 19 and got trained as a 31-Echo, the Armys classification of MP. She began her guard duty at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Americas lockup for criminally convicted members of the military, before she was sent to Guantánamo.
Its been a good experience. I dont regret it, she said. But, I dont want to do this for the rest of my life.
Rather than return to civilian life once she finishes at Guantánamo, the military is letting her reclassify in a different U.S. Army military occupation a 68-Tango. Thats what the Army calls an Animal Care specialist the category of soldier who mostly works out of veterinary clinics on U.S. bases, caring for Army family pets or the dogs of special K-9 soldiers.