You will give it the thought worthy of a piece of lint in your pocket. Sometimes, you will turn it over between your fingers and run your nail against it. You will forget it entirely other days, when you're wearing different clothes or otherwise preoccupied. At times, you may deny to yourself that it really exists. And, if asked what you're doing with your hand in your pocket all the time, you'll not mention it to others; such a little piece of lint, after all, in the scheme of things. When pressed by strangers on a warm summer eve, you'll even tell them that it doesn't exist -- once, twice, thrice before the cock crows (natch).
But, in the end, you cannot deny it.
In retrospect what we did was wrong, but at the time we did what we had to do. Everything we did was accepted, everyone turned their heads.
We got to the camp in August  and set up. We started to go out on missions right away. We didn’t start taking PUCs until September. Shit started to go bad right away. On my very first guard shift for my first interrogation that I observed was the first time I saw a PUC pushed to the brink of a stroke or heart attack. At first I was surprised, like, this is what we are allowed to do? This is what we are allowed to get away with? I think the officers knew about it but didn’t want to hear about it. They didn’t want to know it even existed. But they had to.
To “Fuck a PUC” means to beat him up. We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs, and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day.
To “smoke” someone is to put them in stress positions until they get muscle fatigue and pass out. That happened every day. Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did that for amusement. ....
I was an infantry squad leader doing mounted patrols and conducting raids in Iraq. I would catch the bad guys. You heard a lot of stuff as a squad leader in charge of guys watching PUCs about guys mistreating PUCs. ....
PUCs were placed in a GP [general purpose] medium or small tent, about 20x15, and that is being generous. We had 2-3 tents with no more than 10-15 PUCs per tent with a couple guards to a tent. You added guards if you had more PUCs. We would immediately put these guys in stress positions. PUCs would be holding hands behind their backs and be cuff tied and we would lean their forehead against a wall to support them.
As far as abuse goes I saw hard hitting. I heard a lot of stories, but if it ain’t me I wouldn’t care. I was busy leading my men. I did hear about [a sergeant] breaking PUC bones. ....
I also saw smoking. They would get the PUCs to physically exert themselves to the limit. ....
The Geneva Conventions is questionable and we didn’t know we were supposed to be following it. In Afghanistan you were taught to keep your head down and shoot…. You never thought about the Geneva Conventions. There was an ROE [Rules of Engagement] and it was followed, same in Iraq. But we were never briefed on the Geneva Conventions. These guys are not soldiers. If we were to follow the Geneva Conventions we couldn’t shoot at anyone because they all look like civilians.
When we were at FOB Mercury, we had prisoners that were stacked in pyramids, not naked but they were stacked in pyramids. We had prisoners that were forced to do extremely stressful exercises for at least two hours at a time which personally I am in good shape and I would not be able to do that type of exercises for two hours.… There was a case where a prisoner had cold water dumped on him and then he was left outside in the night. Again, exposure to elements. There was a case where a soldier took a baseball bat and struck a detainee on the leg hard. This is all stuff that I’m getting from my NCOs.
In the PUC holding facility you could have had people that could have been in the wrong house at the wrong time brought in an all of a sudden they are subjected to this. So that’s a big problem, obviously a huge human rights issue.
It’s army doctrine that when you take a prisoner, one of the things you do is secure that prisoner and then you speed him to the rear. You get him out of the hands of the unit that took him. Well, we didn’t do that. We’d keep them at out holding facility for I think it was up to seventy-two hours. Then we would place him under the guard of soldiers he had just been trying to kill. The incident with the detainee hit with baseball bat; he was suspected of having killed one of our officers.
At FOB Mercury] they said that they had pictures that were similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, and because they were so similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, the soldiers destroyed the pictures. They burned them. The exact quote was, “They [the soldiers at Abu Ghraib] were getting in trouble for the same things we were told to do, so we destroyed the pictures.” ....
I am a graduate of West Point currently serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry. I have served two combat tours with the 82nd Airborne Division, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq. While I served in the Global War on Terror, the actions and statements of my leadership led me to believe that United States policy did not require application of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. On 7 May 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's testimony that the United States followed the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and the "spirit" of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan prompted me to begin an approach for clarification. For 17 months, I tried to determine what specific standards governed the treatment of detainees by consulting my chain of command through battalion commander, multiple JAG lawyers, multiple Democrat and Republican Congressmen and their aides, the Ft. Bragg Inspector General's office, multiple government reports, the Secretary of the Army and multiple general officers, a professional interrogator at Guantanamo Bay, the deputy head of the department at West Point responsible for teaching Just War Theory and Law of Land Warfare, and numerous peers who I regard as honorable and intelligent men.
Instead of resolving my concerns, the approach for clarification process leaves me deeply troubled. Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment. I and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The next day I was taken upstairs again. The beating started that day and was very intense for a week, and then less intense for another week. That second and the third days were the worst. I could hear other prisoners being tortured, and screaming and screaming.
Interrogations are carried out in different rooms. One tactic they use is to question prisoners for two hours, and then put them in a waiting room, so they can hear the others screaming, and then bring them back to continue the interrogation.
The cable is a black electrical cable, about two inches thick. They hit me with it everywhere on my body. They mostly aimed for my palms, but sometimes missed and hit my wrists. They were sore and red for three weeks. They also struck me on my hips, and lower back. Interrogators constantly threatened me with the metal chair, tire and electric shocks.
The tire is used to restrain prisoners while they torture them with beating on the sole of their feet. I guess I was lucky, because they put me in the tire, but only as a threat. I was not beaten while in tire. They used the cable on the second and third day, and after that mostly beat me with their hands, hitting me in the stomach and on the back of my neck, and slapping me on the face. Where they hit me with the cables, my skin turned blue for two or three weeks, but there was no bleeding. At the end of the day they told me tomorrow would be worse. So I could not sleep.
Then on the third day, the interrogation lasted about 18 hours. They beat me from time to time and make me wait in the waiting room for one to two hours before resuming the interrogation. While in the waiting room I heard a lot of people screaming. They wanted me to say I went to Afghanistan. This was a surprise to me. They had not asked about this in the United States.
They kept beating me so I had to falsely confess and told them I did go to Afghanistan. I was ready to confess to anything if it would stop the torture. They wanted me to say I went to a training camp. I was so scared I urinated on myself twice. The beating was less severe each of the following days.
* * * * *
We show our love for our country -- and the military that protects it -- by holding to the values that caused it first to earn our love. Patriotism is no whim. It is no infatuation or passing fancy. True patriotism is earned and then paid for, sometimes in our own blood.
There is no love of country in policies that send soldiers to jail for the sins of their commanders and a bureaucracy that fights hardest to keep in the dark that which it cannot defend in the light.
"We are Americans," Mr. McCain said on the Senate floor, "and we hold ourselves to humane standards of treatment of people no matter how evil or terrible they may be... President Bush understands that the war on terror is ultimately a battle of ideas, a battle we will win by spreading and standing firmly for the values of decency, democracy and the rule of law. I stand with him in this commitment."