25. Prisoners Still Brutalized at Gitmo
by Scott Macky and Peter Phillips
In Guantánamo, the notorious but seldom-discussed thug squad, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), deployed by the US military remains very much active. Inside the walls of Guantánamo, the prisoners know the squad as the Extreme Repression Force.
In reality, IRF is an extrajudicial terror squad, the existence of which has been documented since the early days of Guantánamo. IRF has rarely been mentioned in the United States media or in congressional inquiries into torture. On paper, IRF teams are made up of five military police officers who are on constant standby to respond to emergencies. “The IRF team is intended to be used primarily as a forced-extraction team, specializing in the extraction of a detainee who is combative, resistive, or if [there is] the possibility of a weapon . . . in the cell at the time of the extraction,” according to a declassified copy of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Camp Delta at Guantánamo. The document was signed on March 27, 2003, by Major General Geoffrey Miller, the man credited with eventually “Gitmoizing” Abu Ghraib and other US-run prisons.
When an IRF team is called in, its members are dressed in full riot gear, which some prisoners and their attorneys have compared to “Darth Vader” suits. Each officer is assigned a body part of the prisoner to restrain: head, right arm, left arm, left leg, right leg. According to the SOP document, the teams are to give verbal warnings to prisoners before storming the cell: “Prior to the use of the IRF team, an interpreter will be used to tell the detainee of the discipline measures to be taken against him and ask whether he intends to resist. Regardless of his answer, his recent behavior and demeanor should be taken into account in determining the validity of his answer.” The IRF team is authorized to spray the detainee in the face with mace twice before entering the cell.
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