SOLDIER CONVICTED OF MAIMING AND ASSAULTING AN AFGHAN PRISONER SAYS HE WAS TRAINED TO DO IT -- "60 MINUTES"
"I Am Not a Violent Person" Says Private Willie Brand in His First Television Interview
Two Afghans detained during the war in Afghanistan were found beaten to death and chained from the ceilings of the cells, one beaten so badly that the medical examiner created a new word, "pulpified," to describe his injuries. Willie Brand, a soldier convicted of assaulting and maiming one of the prisoners, says he was only doing what he was trained to do when he helped inflict those injuries. Brand appears in his first television interview in a Scott Pelley report on the 2002 incident to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, March 5 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Brand says soldiers chained prisoners to the ceiling for as long as two days to soften them up for interrogation at the prison in Bagram. When prisoners were combative, he controlled them by striking his knee into their legs. "This is what we were trained to do and this is what we did. I was not the only one, there were many others hitting them," he tells Pelley.
Brand's commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Beiring, says the shackling was "acceptable." Besides, says Beiring, "Several of my leaders knew [about the shackling] because�there was probably one or two like that on any given day�.If someone came through, whether they were a colonel or general, we left them [chained]. They seen (sic) what was going on there."
A military medical examiner reported that the two detainees, Habibullah and Dilawar, died from blows just days after they were arrested, and classified their deaths as homicides. Habibullah was rumored to be a high-ranking member of the Taliban; Dilawar was arrested near an American base that had been rocketed, but interrogators came to believe he was probably just an innocent taxi driver.
A military jury convicted Brand of maiming and assault. He freely admits using the knee technique many times, but Brand says he didn't think his blows caused the deaths. "I don't really know how that happened," he says. Willie Brand's punishment was demotion from specialist to private.
"They're going to charge you with maiming and unvoluntary (sic) manslaughter. How can this be when they've trained you to do it and they condoned it while you were doing it?" asks Brand.