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35 former GITMO prison guards look to become police officers in Massachusetts

Are you a former GITMO prison guard? Do you want to become a police officer in Massachusetts? There's a fast track for that.

For $2,500, returning GITMO guards can attend a police training workshop facilitated by a Worcester police officer who also works for the Massachusetts National Guard. The training program is hosted by the Worcester Police Department, which reportedly expects to recruit from among the graduates.

The first class will graduate 35 National Guard Military Policemen who just returned home from tours of duty at the military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center and hope to become police officers in Massachusetts.

The Telegram and Gazette reports:

In a period that would typically stretch over 35 weeks, the men will become certified in the next few months by studying such topics as ethics, defense tactics, conflict resolution measures and how to complete a municipal police report.

Air Force Sgt. Ryan Cunningham, 26, of Pembroke, said the reports are one of the biggest differences he found so far in the course. In his second day of training, he said, he learned that local police reports are far more detailed than others he's taken.

Report writing is different at GITMO. You don't say.

This week, journalists reported that three men who died at the US military facility in Cuba may have been tortured to death. The US government has previously claimed that the men committed suicide.

Guantanamo is known worldwide for its brutal treatment of detainees, all of whom have been held by the United States without charge or trial. The remaining detainees have been locked up without facing charges for nearly 15 years. The military has fought hunger strikes detainees mount against their indefinite confinement through the use of force-feeding, a practice the American Medical Association condemns and the UN calls torture.

Before military police and 'doctors' force feed them, detainees are subject to what the military euphemistically calls "forcible cell extractions." These extractions, carried out by military police, are brutal.

One GITMO detainee, Moath al-Alwi, describes what the military police do:

When I choose to remain in my cell in an act of peaceful protest against the force-feeding, the prison authorities send in a Forced Cell Extraction team: six guards in full riot gear. Those guards are deliberately brutal to punish me for my protest. They pile up on top of me to the point that I feel like my back is about to break. They then carry me out and strap me into the restraint chair, which we hunger strikers call the torture chair.

A new twist to this routine involves the guards restraining me to the chair with my arms cuffed behind my back. The chest strap is then tightened, trapping my arms between my torso and the chair’s backrest. This is done despite the fact that the torture chair features built-in arm restraints. It is extremely painful to remain in this position.

Even after I am tied to the chair, a guard digs his thumbs under my jaw, gripping me at the pressure points and choking me as the tube is inserted down my nose and into my stomach. They always use my right nostril now because my left one is swollen shut after countless feeding sessions. Sometimes, the nurses get it wrong, snaking the tube into my lung instead, and I begin to choke.

The Massachusetts National Guard and Worcester police official who is running the training pilot for returning GITMO guards told reporters he thinks the program will save taxpayers money, and hopes it will become a national model.

The militarization of the police is becoming quite literal.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.