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tv   BBC Newsnight  WHUT  May 8, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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>> "bbc news night" is presented by kcet, los angeles. foundation. the john d. macarthur foundation. and union bank. >> union bank has put its global
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financial strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? >> we are a nation of the explorers. we seek new ways of living, thinking and expressing ourselves. we take risks, we learn from experience, and keep moving forward. that is why we encourage and celebrate the explorer in all of us. >> now "bbc news night.">> responsible for guarding enemy counterparts? why does he regret it? >> this week, a special report on a former guard at guantanamo bay to track down to the bill former inmates on facebook and
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apologize. -- tracked down two former inmates. >> [unintelligible] >> hello, if barack obama had had his way in and returned to america to the moral high ground in the war on terror, the internment camp at guantanamo bay would now they just about closed. it has not happened. one of the guards there has made his own privilege -- made his own health permits. we tell the story of the relationship between one guard -- made his own privilege. we brought them together after a guard contacted former inmates on facebook to express remorse for what he did. ♪
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♪ >> eight years ago three men met at the world's most notorious prison. ♪ >> we were told we got them from afghanistan. >> i thought about it many times. >> a former guard from guantanamo bay and two former prisoners have agreed to meet for an extraordinary reunion. >> there are a few people who said, why would you meet someone like that? if it was may, i would want [unintelligible] >> have you worried about the reaction you might get? >> i thought about it, but i will see when i get there. ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> huntsville, a small town with a big reputation. it is famous for the jail where all the executions take place. i am on my way to hon still --huntsville. >> it is home to a former soldier overworked at the notorious prisoner. in 2001 he was stationed at fort hood when he received orders for the posting that would place him at the heart of the war on terror.
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>> we were told it was not a prisoner of war camp, because the fact was they were not enemy prisoners, they were just detainee's. they were taken off the battlefield of afghanistan and they were caught fighting americans and afghanistan. >> [unintelligible] they were held at guantanamo bay 40.5 years -- for 2.5 years. they say they were delivering aid and afghanistan when they were captured. they deny having anything to do with terrorism. >> we were under the idea that
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either we were [unintelligible] [unintelligible] the cost of fear was the only way to describe what was stolen on, the fear of being beaten. -- describe what was. they could do anything to you. >> tensions were high on both sides of the fence. there was an incident where an elderly prisoners disobeyed instructions. >> put his [unintelligible] hold onto him and he would not take the handcuffs off. we started yelling at him, don't move. when he did, i slammed his face into the concrete. later on, talking to some
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detainees, they said, hey, the reason that guy jumped was because he thought he was going to be executed. >> how did you feel about that? >> i beat up on this dude who was just scared. i felt pretty bad, but but -- i never did feel good about it. >> branded began to make further unexpected discoveries. -- brandon. >> dziewit talk to them and there was nothing to do. -- you would talk to them. some of them would speak very good english which was very surprising. you would talk to various detainees.
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i spoke to him quite a bit because i worked that block quite a bit. he was no different from me sitting at the bar talking about women or music. i remember him talking about james bond music. >> they talked about going out and doing different things. >> do you ever listen to eminen. what do you know about them? it was just funny. >> [unintelligible] we would make our own kind of version. >> [unintelligible] >> sometimes it made no sense, but it was funny. we used to tease the soldiers. >> i think a lot of these guys were the same age as me. why is he here? i said no, they have to be out here. there is no way we would lot of
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innocent people for no reason. >> brandon left in 2002 and would serve in iraq. life was also about to get tougher for the inmates. they were placed in isolation, pressure was mounting for them to confess to being members of al qaeda. they were played a video that showed them at a speech by osama bin laden. both men said they could prove they were in britain and the footage was shot. it was not what their interrogators wanted to hear. >> the torture techniques they used to do was [unintelligible] it was painful. hours upon hours and sometimes days. the pain becomes unbearable. out of all the techniques, the
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music was probably the worst part. >> it was extremely light out. like someone screen for hours and hours. >> i thought about taking my own life many times. i thought if i hang myself. it is the best way out. i got there with a sheet and if i kill myself, then that means they want. >> home from guantanamo bay, the five british men held as terrorist suspects. americans insisted they had been right to detain them. in 2004 they were released without charge and flown home. brandon left the military in
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2005 and became a police officer. >> once i was out and started seeing in the news and detainees getting out. i remember him and the news is always trying to make guantanamo into this great place. the very 2002, no, it was not. -- february 2002. >> brandon began to speak out publicly against guantanamo. astonishingly, he decided to reach out to a former inmate in cuba. it found another way to do it. >> i was pretty new to facebook so i decided to tie in names. i came across the one facebook page and decided to send him an e-mail. this is what i wrote to him. my name is brandon.
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i was a military police officer that work as your guard. in january 2002 through june of 2002. i never agreed with it, but i was doing what i was told. >> then he says, and i am sorry for the hell that you continue to be put through. >> just let me know. take care. i was not quite sure. i didn't know if he would respond. >> it was surprising to receive a message from one of them saying what happened to us in guantanamo was wrong. it was surprising. >> people are very prideful in texas. >> the jailer and his former prisoner became unlikely
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facebook friends. we asked if they would be prepared to meet face to face. >> it is even a bigger step than face-to-face to talk to them and tell them i'm sorry for what they went through. it will be good to help me move on and hopefully bring closure to them as well. >> my family said, why would you meet someone like that for? the way he treated you. they say, because if it was me i would want to beat him up. i don't want to meet him because i know it would not be a nice feeling, but you have to see beyond that. that takes a lot of courage. >> are you worried about the reaction you might get? >> i have thought about it. it is a pretty big thing because i don't know if i could have done that if i had been in the same situation.
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i thought about it, but i will see when i get there. ♪ >> almost one year after his first e-mail, brandon a rise in england. -- he arrives in england. it is eight years since they first met at the height of the war on terror. ♪ >> we have arranged for the three men to the united here in london. it is a very different setting to their last meeting. then he met with -- they were the worst of the worst and brandon was their guard. now they are coming face to face again. >> mixed emotions that i feel.
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>> coming towards it now, i feel a bit nervous. i don't know why, but i am feeling nervous. >> i have thought about it hundreds of times. i don't know what will happen. i am excited to see and hopefully some good will come out of this. >> hi. [unintelligible] >> do i look different? >> that is for sure. >> should we take a seat?
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just to get an idea what it's like to see each other in a room and after all this time? >> [unintelligible] i was behind a cage and he was on the other side. now we shook hands. it is odd. >> what about you? >> [unintelligible] the word guard and detainee. here they are telling me all those wearing jumpsuits -- a couple feet away. these are the guys knew i was told would kill me if i turned my back rent and here we are sitting here. >> do you want to tell him a little bit about why you are here now? >> i am really sorry for the way you were treated when i was there.
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i took part in a lot of the stuff that happened. putting you in the cages, but me personally, i am sorry. i wish i never would have taken part in it. i am sorry for what happened. >> i am really happy for brandon to say sorry to us. it means so much to us. i cannot explain how much it means to us, but i don't hold you responsible. you were there to do a job. you had to do that job when people like yourself commit indeed say the same things that we were saying. it helped four people to believe what we were saying was true. i appreciate from the bottom of my heart would you have done. >> it is the government that really need to apologize. you do not need to apologize.
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it is not your fault. >> do you know much about the reasons they have given for why they are there? >> i can just remember that you were at a wedding in afghanistan to give aid and were captured. >> do you want to explain to brandon what happened? >> i told you before -- the initial thing was we went for a wedding. we had about three weeks to his wedding, so we decided to go on to our. -- go on tour. [unintelligible] the day we got in was when the bombing started. the soldiers took americans for $35,000 each.
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[unintelligible] >> you were caught in the taliban stronghold. people say is an unlikely story. what do you say to that? >> people will say that. there are millions of people, but i don't know if i was -- if i was guilty of a crime we would not be sitting here today. there would have been no way that we would be released. >> what the makeup of the position they put themselves in? >> just wrong place wrong time. i know a lot of people who use the same thing, but it has been proven they had nothing to do with it. >> donald rumsfeld said guantanamo was the least worst place to house terror suspects.
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many say it is an understandable response to what was a threat. what do you make of that? >> i would like to know -- how many people went to guantanamo who had no ties to terrorism who got locked up for five years? or people became terrorists because they felt like there was -- their religion was being attacked. i think it has caused more problems in the world. >> the men seem to be relaxing around each other. >> i can remember seeing new, your face, but i cannot remember talking about this things. i know for a fact once you gave me skittles on the slide. i can remember that clearly. you used to wear your cap really low. that is for short. >> the remaining appeared to be
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going well, brandon was about to make a confession. >> there was a moment that you say you were ashamed of your own behavior. do you mind telling them about what you did? >> the first day of alpha bl ock. i take them and there was a guy who was an older detainee, you might remember him. i start yelling at him, don't move. the -- he jerked and i slammed his face into the ground. i can remember coming back the next morning and the left side of his face being scraped up. i was talking to someone weeks later and i cannot remember who it was. they told me he was scared because when he was on his knee
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as he thought he would be executed. that was the whole reason he fought. i really felt horrible. >> what do you make of that? >> i think it is not your fault. it is more the fault of the translators that they used to have their. i used to listen to some of them translate and i heard, he did not even say that. he said something different. >> [unintelligible] >> in what way? >> just what he just said. the guy thought he would be executed and that is why he jerked. then he got slammed on the floor because of that.
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>> [unintelligible] could you know what it was like to be there in that situation? >> i do know how it feels like to be there, especially when you cannot speak or communicate. >> can you see it for brandon's position? >> i can see where he is coming from, [unintelligible] hold it against him. he has realized what he did was wrong. i believe he has already suffered. as long as he knows why he did was wrong, it is amazing. it takes a lot of courage to say that was wrong. >> brandon left cuba in 2002. they would spend another two
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years at guantanamo. they say that during that time they were tortured to try to make them confessed to being members of al qaeda. >> we were in a block where everything was controlled by our interrogators. they had more power than the military. we were being taken to interrogation for hours and left there with music blaring for hours. that was nothing compared to what happened to other detainees. if there is any way of prosecuting them, they should be prosecuted. >> what about the guards such asbrandon. should he be prosecuted? >> no, because of what he is doing now. he did not need to tell the world, but he feels guilty for what he has done. i think that is punishment
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enough. >> people started the camp knew it was wrong. i have always said that torture is illegal. it has been illegal since we had the geneva convention. physical, mental, it can be anything. someone can come back and say all this torture -- torture is taking an innocent man and locking him up for two years. everybody should be held responsible for torture. >> what about yourself? >> it is a situation to reflect on. >> thank you all. later that evening, the men go for a meal together. it is a chance for brandon to meet the families of his former
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prisoners and had his first taste of curry. >> [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> i will go with that one. >> it is nice to see him. he has a family just like us. i hope you get something out of it going back home. >> definitely. this has been a positive experience. >> he next morning, when it is time forbrandon to return home. >> i am glad he actually came. now that he is leaving i feel a
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bit sad. 48 hours and he is leaving. i actually want to spend time to get to know him on a personal level. >> come back to the u.k. >> i think it went really well. i think i have gained a friend. >> i'm glad i came and did it. it is good to be able to tell them how i felt and i was sorry for how i -- basara for what had happened. and to hear them tell me they understood and for me to move on. we do become friends. i am leaving with two more friends than when i came. >> that is all for this week. fr. -- from all of us, goodbye.
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funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank. >> union bank has put its global strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? >> "bbc news night" was presented kcet,
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