Exclusive: Navy officer names Guantanamo Detainees
May 15, 2007
My name is Matthew Mark Diaz. I am a Lieutenant Commander. I’m in the JAG Corps, which means I’m an attorney. I was a high school drop out; I joined the Army without a high school education. I had basic training and the Army, they made me get a GED and, from there, the military service allowed me to travel, allowed me to get an education, and helped me develop a sense of honor and commitment to serving my country.
I’m currently being prosecuted at a general court-martial in Norfolk, Virginia for releasing the names and other identifying information of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The detainee information was released to Barbara Olshansky who is an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. That organization is a human rights organization and they were representing a number of detainees. At the time they were helping them file habeas corpus petitions in federal district court. The cases had reached the Supreme Court, which determined and held that they—the detainees—had the right to file those habeas petitions so the Center and other attorneys working with the Center for Constitutional Rights had requested all of the detainees' information, so that they could ascertain who was down there, try to locate family members of those detainees that were identified, and determine whether they wanted a petition filed as well, in district court, as the Supreme Court said they were entitled to do.
Another one of my primary responsibilities was to track and investigate allegations of abuse and some of the methods the interrogators used—you may have heard of the lap dance, some of the sexual taunting, the fake menstrual blood on the detainees' forehead, bending of the thumb or some appendage back so the detainee grimaced in pain. And that was some of stuff that was witnessed by an FBI agent who had complained about what he was observing in that interrogation. The "short shackling," I believe they called it (as it's been referred to), putting them in stress positions shackled to the eyebolt that was in floor that was a very difficult position to maintain.
Near the end of my tour there, it was December, just before Christmas, I had observed the stonewalling, the obstacles we continued to place in the way of the attorneys who were trying to implement and carry out the decision of Rasul which the Supreme Court said that they were—the detainees were entitled to file habeas corpus petitions. I knew my time there was limited if I was going to be able to do anything to have some sort of impact (and favorable impact) to carry out this decision and to comply with the law as I was trained to do.
I had to do something and it was, I admit, it was a cowardly way, I mean I was more concerned about damaging my career. Obviously, I chose the wrong path because here I am, my career is in jeopardy, serious jeopardy, much more serious jeopardy than it would’ve been if I would have raised the issue to my chain of command. So I made a stupid decision, I know, but I felt it was the right decision, the moral decision, the decision that was required by international law.
When I went to the army JAG school in 2002 to obtain my Masters in military law we had a whole course on international law, Geneva Conventions, and what was required of us in prisoners of war or detainees, no matter how the conflict was identified we were to treat them in accordance with Geneva; and it just wasn’t being done.
I think the two misstatements or false statements that I've heard about Guantanamo, "they are the worst of the worst," that’s just not true, and the second statement was that "we do not torture".
Before we leave the island we have to have all of our bags inspected, all of our media inspected, to make sure we don’t have anything that we were not supposed to have. I knew I couldn’t carry it out of the island so I wanted to find a way to get it to her without it coming back to me, so I reduced the size of the printout, cut around the edges to make it fit in a typical Valentine’s Day size card.
My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States. I’m not a criminal, I did a good thing in a stupid way, but I’m not a criminal. They have not complied with international law, with our own Constitution. I think a good case can be made for allegations of war crimes, policies that were war crimes. There was a way to do this properly and we are not doing it properly. I love my country and I don’t think there is any place else on Earth that would provide me the opportunities that I’ve been given.
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