Thursday, May 06, 2010

GitMo: ‘The Monster’ Testifies

‘The Monster’ Testifies at Gitmo Hearing

5/5/10 Former Bagram Interrogator Damien Corsetti Discusses Abuse of Omar Khadr

Soldiers at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (

GUANTANAMO BAY — His nickname wasn’t “Monster,” he admonished the lawyer. It was “The Monster.” That was what the Bagram Collection Point’s interrogators, guards — and most especially detainees — called Army interrogator Damien Corsetti. And it was important to him that the court correctly record his story.

Back then — in 2002 at Bagram, and later at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison — Corsetti was as fearsome as his handle. Although acquitted, he went before a court-martial proceeding related to the abuse of a detainee in Iraq. Now, Corsetti is an unemployed veteran of two wars, unable to work because of post-traumatic stress disorder, and an infamous figure in the U.S.’s post-9/11 history of torture.

But he testified on Wednesday morning from a remote location on behalf of one of the former inmates at Bagram whom he used to intimidate and brutalize: Omar Khadr, the 23-year old Canadian citizen who has been in U.S. custody for nearly eight years. The large man once known as “The Monster” — the nickname is tattooed in Italian on his stomach — provided rare sworn testimony about the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in the Afghanistan war’s early days, the product of what he described as command pressure for intelligence and unclear rules about permissible interrogator behavior.

Corsetti didn’t directly interrogate Khadr, he told the court, but he spoke to Khadr at least two to three times a week from August to October 2002, after which Khadr was transferred here. “He was a child,” said an occasionally emotional Corsetti. “He was a 15-year old child who had been blown up, shot and grenaded. He was in one of the worst places on the earth. How could you not have compassion for that? … He was in the wrong place for a 15-year old child to be.” Continues Here

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