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'Fuck the Interrogators': An Exclusive Excerpt From the Diary of a Guantanamo Detainee

VICE News obtained an excerpt from the diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the first detainee still imprisoned at Guantanamo to publish a book about life in the prison.
January 20, 2015, 8:32pm
Photo: Canongate Books

"Fuck the interrogators: We do the work and they take the credit."

That's not a line from the Senate's recently declassified report on the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" techniques, but an alleged statement from a Guantanamo guard recorded in the diary of detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

Slahi's diary, published today, is the first account of life in the Cuba prison told through the eyes a man who is still detained there. He claims he was tortured, threatened with death, and sexually humiliated. In an exclusive excerpt from the book obtained by VICE News, Slahi describes routine beatings and intimidation at the hands of guards.

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The 44-year-old wrote the diary on unlined paper during the summer and early autumn of 2005. It took six years of negotiation by his attorneys to clear it for publication. The US initially considered the entire 446-page volume classified, and whole pages have been redacted in the final published version, along with the names of guards and other details.

Obama will 'prioritize' the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee in Guantanamo. Read more here.

Slahi's ordeal began in his native Mauritania more than 13 years ago when he arrived for questioning at his local police headquarters over his suspected involvement in a 1999 plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport. He hasn't returned home since.

He was reportedly sent to Jordan and Afghanistan before ending up at Guantanamo in August 2002. He claims he was blindfolded and forced to drink salt water, and says he made a number of false confessions in hopes of securing his release.

Mohamedou travelled twice to Afghanistan in the early 1990s and swore allegiance to al Qaeda, but he says he severed all connection with the group in 1992. No evidence, other than his own forced confessions, has been found, and he has never been charged with anything.

Five Yemeni Guantanamo detainees freed as GOP senators move to block releases. Read more here.

The declassification of the diary was a long and complicated process, Slahi's lawyer Nancy Hollander said Tuesday at a London press conference..

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"We kept asking for this bigger manuscript to be cleared [declassified] and it never was," Hollander said. "It comes back in what they call 'protected status,' which is a status I think they made up."

The restrictions meant Slahi's attorneys were only able to discuss the manuscript among themselves.

"I argued for years that part of our job as lawyers is to expose it," Hollander said.

The US maintains that Slahi's detainment is lawful.

"We continue to detain Mohamedou Slahi under the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force of 2001 (AUMF) as informed by the laws of war," Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Defense Department spokesman, told the Guardian. "He has full access to federal court for review of his detention by United States district court via petition for writ of habeas corpus."

From Guantanamo Diary, Chapter Six, 'GTMO 2004-5'

____________ was the most violent guard. In Building _______ the guards performed regular assaults on me in order to maintain the terror. They came in a big masked team, screaming and giving contradictory orders so I wouldn't know what to do. They would drag me out of my cell and throw my belongings all over the place.

"Get up… Face the wall… You've been resting lately too much… You have a Pillow… Ha Ha!… Look inside his cell… The piece of shit might be hiding something… We found two kernels of rice hidden beneath his mattress…You have twenty seconds to put everything where it belongs!" The game was over when they made me sweat. I knew the guards didn't have the order to beat me, but this guard used every opportunity to hit me and claw me deeply. I don't think that he is the smartest guy, but he was well trained in how to beat somebody without leaving irreparable injuries. "Hitting in the ribs is painful and doesn't leave permanent scars, especially when treated right away with ice-cubes," one of the guards told me. __________ ___ was both violent and loud, but thank God, he was very lazy; he only barked at the beginning of the shift and after a short time he disappeared from the stage to watch a movie or go to sleep.

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_________________ didn't have any bad feelings about his job; on the contrary, he was rather proud of what he was doing, and he was mad at the fact that he was taking care of the dirty part of the job and he wanted to be rewarded adequately. "Fuck the interrogators: we do the work and they take the credit,"__________ told me once.

He also didn't get along with ______________, the only guy that outranked him. "______ is a pussy!" he described him once. But ______________ was not a social person anyway. He could not lead a normal conversation like everybody else. He rarely spoke, and when he did, it was about his wild sex experiences. One common thing among the guards is that most of them never understood the fact that some people don't have sex outside marriage.

"You're gay," was the usual response.

"That is OK with me, but I cannot have sex outside marriage. You may consider me an idiot, but that's OK!"

"How can you buy a car without test-driving it?"

"First of all, a woman is not a car. And I am doing it because of my religion." Even ____________interrogator _______ shocked me once when ____ said, "I wouldn't marry anybody before test driving him." But I still do believe that some Americans don't believe in premarital sex.

Follow Ben Bryant on Twitter: @benbryant