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Report of the Investigation into Videotapes of Forced Cell Extractions, June 2004

On May 16, 2004, Tarek Dergoul, former Guantánamo prisoner from the United Kingdom, granted an interview to The London Observer. In that interview, Mr. Dergoul claimed that Guantánamo prisoners were brutally extracted from their cells, and that these actions were typically recorded on digital video by one of the guards carrying out the extractions [1]. The existence of such recordings was subsequently confirmed by Guantánamo spokesman Lt. Col. Leon Sumpter, who added that all forced cell extractions were filmed, reviewed by senior officers, and archived at the base. As soon as Mr. Dergoul's claims were made public, calls by officials from both sides of the Atlantic were issued demanding the immediate release of these recordings:

Although no recordings were ever released, investigators from the U.S. Southern Command reviewed twenty hours of video recordings of forced cell extractions in June 2004 and wrote a report that was later obtained by the Associated Press. The report reveals guards punching detainees, kneeing them on the head [2], pepper-spraying them repeatedly, tying them to a gurney for interrogation, stripping them from the waist down, and appealing to all-female extraction teams. Yet, reviewers said they found no evidence of systemic detainee abuse:

The American Civil Liberties Union has initiated a Freedom of Information Act request to make these videotapes public:


[1] These forced cell extractions are called either irfings or erfings, after the acronyms of the names of the teams carrying them out (Immediate Response Force, Immediate Reaction Force, Emergency Response Force, or Emergency Reaction Force).

[2] Guards carrying out the forced cell extractions come with full riot gear, including knee guards.