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Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Jennifer Bryson)

jennifer_bryson.jpgAlmost all of my interrogators were asking to use methods that were, of course (I would hope), straight out of the Army Field Manual. I had one interrogator, however, who was asking for permission to […] bring a detainee into a room that would be darkened with strobe lights and extremely loud music. That was what one might call, kind of, “head banger” music. And I remember the requests said the music will only be up to such‐and‐such [decibel level] and research has shown that this level, you know, cannot harm the hearing…

And [I] was absolutely disturbed and baffled and perplexed, because this had absolutely nothing to do with how I had been trained. This had absolutely nothing to do with what the Army had taught us was allowed; this had absolutely nothing to do with what experienced interrogators, who [had] years of interrogation had taught me and told me, with many specific stories, works.

It was extremely uncomfortable for me. And it was also uncomfortable because I was coming in as the first […] civilian Team Chief. I was the first female Team Chief. They also knew that I had a Ph.D. from Yale, which, in that environment, you know, isn’t necessarily looked at with enthusiasm. And I had to make clear who was in charge, establish my credibility. All at the same time as I’m immediately being faced with this decision.

And it just seemed wrong and I could not rationally imagine how this would work. And something that I was very, very fortunate with, was that when I had made a decision that I was going to say "no" to this, I went and talked to another Team Chief who was there. A military officer who was a reservist. And this is one of the great things about the reservists in the US military, [it] is that they bring such a rich mix of civilian work experience. In his civilian work experience he was a homicide detective in a major US city. And he was amazing as an interrogator. I had already seen him in action and we had had many discussions. And I went to him and I said, “I want to not approve this.” And everybody around me assumed that this would just keep going on. And it was amazing. He said, “Thank God! Finally, somebody! You’re absolutely doing the right thing.”

Interviewer: Are you saying that up till your presence that was going on? We know that was going on… but that, I mean…

When I arrived, it was assumed that I would just say "yes". I don’t know how long this had been going on, and I can only speak to my experience when I was there but…

Interviewer: What reaction did you get when you said "no"?

Some anger and opposition, but when I said "no" I said "no" and there was going to be no choice.

 

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