FORMER GUANTANAMO BAY TRANSLATOR SAYS PRISONER
INTERROGATIONS WERE STAGED FOR VISITING V.I.P.S IN HIS
FIRST INTERVIEW -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
Former Sgt. Erik Saar Says He Saw an Interrogator Sexually Taunt a Devout Muslim
A former Guantanamo Bay translator says prisoner interrogations were staged to give visiting congressmen, senators and generals the impression that valuable intelligence information was being gleaned from cooperative detainees on a regular basis. He also says detainees were treated in sadistic ways -- including being taunted sexually. Former Army Sgt. Erik Saar talks to Scott Pelley in his first interview, to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, May 1 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Saar spent six months at Guantanamo and believes "only a few dozen" of the 600 detainees at the base were real terrorists and that little information was obtained from them. Visiting authorities were led to believe otherwise, says Saar. "Interrogations were set up so the VIPs could come and witness an interrogation�a mock interrogation, basically," he tells Pelley. "They would find a detainee that they knew to have been cooperative. They would ask the interrogator to go back over the same information�and they would sit across a table and talk�[it was] a fictitious world they would create for these VIPs," he says.
The reality, says Saar, was sometimes in complete contrast. Detainees didn't always cooperate, he says, and many were treated harshly. He recalls translating for one female interrogator who used sex against a devout Muslim who had taken flight lessons in the U.S. and was probably a dangerous terrorist with potentially crucial information. When touching her breasts through her t-shirt to make him "feel unclean in an Islamic way" failed to make him talk, the female officer went further, says Saar. "She�put her hands in her pants�she pulled out her hand which was red and said, 'I'm actually menstruating right now and I'm touching you. Does that please your God?'" recalls Saar. It was really red ink, says Saar, but "[the detainee] got pent up and shied away from her and she then took the ink and wiped it on his face." The interrogator ended the session telling the detainee that the water would be turned off in his cell, "so that he then could not go back and become ritually clean�[and] therefore could not pray," says Saar.
Saar says this particular detainee "was a bad individual" who should remain locked up forever, but he thinks the use of this method, known as "sex-up," against him was not only disgusting but useless. "It did not work and from what I later learned, the detainee remained uncooperative," Saar tells Pelley. "There are much better methods that were being employed at Guantanamo Bay that yielded the little bit of intelligence we did receive."
FBI agents stationed at Guantanamo Bay have written classified emails to FBI headquarters warning that detainees were being physically mistreated in addition to being subjected to the "sex-up" interrogation tactics. Retired Army Col. Patrick Lang, formerly the head of human intelligence gathering at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, says that after reading the FBI emails and listening to Saar's accounts, "A lot of this behavior which has been allowed is so far outside the pale�I think it's torture."
The Army declined to comment on Saar's story or to provide someone to answer questions about Guantanamo Bay.