Three Guantanamo guards systematically forced Afghan detainees to humiliate themselves, in order to be allowed to eat.
Accusations against a Marine lieutenant and his subordinates have sparked an internal investigation that led to the lieutenant being discharged for forcing inmates to dance to the music of Usher and other American pop stars, according to a source speaking on condition of anonymity. The Times has been provided with an incident report prepared by the office of the Marine Corps Inspector General.
On April 11, the Inspector General said Lieutenant Dominic Martucci made detainees dance to American rock music, forcing them perform "old school" dances such as the "Robot" and the "Electric Slide" in order to receive scheduled meals. The source said that detainees were told those who refused to dance for the soldiers' amusement would be forced to eat uncooked or raw food.
According to Walid Hallabee, an Islamic scholar at Rutgers University, such treatment would constitute "grave insult" to Sunni Muslims. Sunni Islam is the dominant religion in the volatile Pashtun regions of Afghanistan, and of the majority of Afghan detainees at Guantanamo.
Detainees complained that Martucci forced them to do a 5 minute "bump and grind" routine while other Marines watched, according to the incident report. The Inspector also accused Sergeant Ronald Metcalf, Corporal Jacob Hoover, and Corporal Emilio Zalick of observing the mistreatment, but doing nothing to stop Lieutenant Martucci, nor of reporting his misconduct to superior officers. Metcalf, Hoover, and Zalick were given disciplinary notices but have not been charged in the matter.
According to the Inspector General's report, Lieutenant Martucci admitted to the "dance party", stating that it was necessary because a handful of detainees would not return directly to their cells following Friday prayers as ordered.
Sergeant Hoover, in a statement furnished to the Inspector Genral, wrote that the detainees seemed to be "having a good time" and that they were dancing by themselves. According to Hallabee of the Rutgers Center for Islamic Studies, this is highly unlikely. "Sunni Islam teaches that the sole musical use for the human voice is for the glorification of God, as in a Muezzin's call to prayer, and that dancing is against the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad. It is inconceivable that these men, from a very conservative sect in a very conservative country, would have debased themselves in such a fashion," Hallabee informed the Times. "As for eating uncooked food, in addition to being unsafe this is strictly Hara'am, forbidden to those who follow the Islamic faith. These men had to choose between humiliation and starvation."
Lieutenant Martucci refused to provide a written statement, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
At a preliminary hearing early Wednesday, a military prosecutor charged that the actions of Martucci were "unbecoming of a Marine," and announced that court martial proceedings would commence within the month.
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The New York Times, as well as the Washington Post and ABC News, should all be commended for their bravery in bringing this story to light.
Americans may not want to hear it, but journalists have a duty to inform us when our military, in violation of the Geneva Convention, forces prisoners of war to undergo embarrassment and humiliation worse than what one would expect to find in some podunk county jail. In this era of journalistic consolidation and cutbacks, we should all be proud that the national media covers such atrocities and unconstitutional treatment which would never be inflicted on an American citizen.