2011-04-02 Interview with Brandon Neely, former Guantanamo prison guard. "It's not a right wing, left wing issue. It's a right or wrong issue."(Part 8 of 8)

ImageThis is our first interview in a series of interviews with former Guantanamo Bay detention camp guards and detainees.

Several current and former U.S. soldiers have expressed interest in speaking publicly about their experience at Guantanamo: including a CIA psychologist, interrogators, guards, and medical personnel. They are disgusted with what they witnessed or took part in at Guantanamo, but declined my request for an interview, because they fear opening themselves up to prosecution by the US government, which required them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement .

I was also told that many are afraid of being prosecuted for war crimes, since low level soldiers are often the ones who shoulder the brunt of punishment and backlash; whereas higher ranking officials seem to escape scrutiny completely.

Brandon Neely, has been a vocal critic of both Guantanamo Bay, and the war in Iraq. And he speaks from experience, since he was both a guard at Guantanamo during the the first six months the camp was open, and served in Iraq during the US invasion. In the course of his advocacy, he has offered testimony to the Center for Human Rights in the Americas, and appeared in numerous articles and on television programs, including a BBC program that recounts how he contacted two of his former prisoners on Facebook to express remorse for what he did. You can also find him, where I did, on twitter, @BrandonTXNeely.

You've talk to your fellow soldiers, in Iraq, in Guantanamo...and there is a resistance to talking about it...or a fear of the consequences of it. And, I am sure there are consequences, even personal ones, like you said. Do you think that the more people that talk about it, the easy it will be for everybody?

Oh, yeah definitely.

Just look how that was five years ago. Or even since I've spoke out.

I mean look at the amount of people that have came forward: You've got Albert [Melise]. You've got Joe [Hickman] (and those four guys there). You got me. You have medics at UCDavis that actually, because they've seen an article with my name on it...and they've seen was was going on...they've actually spoken out to them.

You have a civilian contractor who was welding on Camp X-Ray who had seen some of the abuse with the internal reaction force team, while he was working there. I mean he came forward.

All these people have come forward. So obviously the more people that come forward. Cause there's always power in numbers. I mean you start off with two or three guys speaking out, and now you have ten. And, next year you have 15, what are they going to do?

I mean if they come after one, they have to come after everybody. There is power in numbers. And, the more people that talk and tell their stories, the more people are going to listen.

And the thing is.. a lot of people in the country want to hear it. They're just are not going to say it publicly, because they don't think it's the right thing to say.

Cause people are scared. My thing is. People want to play this political line, like, "You have to be on the right or you have to be on the left."

You don't have to do nothing. It's not a right wing, left wing issue. It's a right or wrong issue. That's the way I look at it, personally.

I don't like to get into: "Well I'm a republican, or I'm a..." To me, it's right or wrong. I mean, you're doing the right thing or that's it.

But people are worried about that line: "Well, I don't want to be called a liberal. You know, but ok. "Well I don't agree with that, but I can't have the name liberal attached to me."

Or, "I don't want to be known as a right wing nut job." Then you get these messages from these people like, "Hey thanks for speaking out. I really want to know what it was like then. Thanks for your support."

You know, but it's like, it's amazing that you hear even some guys from the military, "Hey, man. Appreciate you speaking out. It's nice to know that someone out there is still abiding by the oath. I wish I could have the courage to speak out too."

So, there are people out there. They just...it's the fact that they have to do it.

I think the more they do it, the more that will.

I am like so...this is such an awesome experience for me. I am so, so...it is such a pleasure to meet you. I really, really look forward to hearing more about you, and I am gonna keep an eye on you.

You too. Thanks for speaking with me.

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