“Guantánamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Despite all the depressing reality made tangible by his account, this man, his words, humor, and perspective are truly inspiring.


 

We spent almost two months of argumentation. “Bring me to the court, and I’ll answer all your questions,” I would tell the team.
“There will be no court!” they would answer.
“Are you a Mafia? You kidnap people, lock them up, and blackmail them,” I said.
“You guys are a law enforcement problem,” said [redacted]. “We cannot apply the conventional law to you. We need only circumstantial evidence to fry you.”
“I’ve done nothing against your country, have I?”
“You’re a part of the big conspiracy against the U.S.!” said [redacted].
“You can pull this charge on anybody! What have I done?”
“I don’t know, you tell me!” p.65

 


 

A Mauritanian folktale tells us about a rooster-phobe who would almost lose his mind whenever he encountered a rooster.
“Why are you so afraid of the rooster?” the psychiatrist asks him.
“You’re not corn. You are a very big man. Nobody can mistake you for a tiny ear of corn,” the psychiatrist said.
I know that, Doctor. But the rooster doesn’t. Your job is to go to him and convince him that I am not corn.”
The man was never healed, since talking with a rooster is impossible. End of story.
For years I’ve been trying to convince the U.S. Government that I am not corn. p.71

 


 

So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; it’s something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases. The majority of people don’t know, really, where the line is that separates breaking the law from not breaking it. If you get arrested, the situation worsens, because most people trust the government to have a good reason for the arrest. p.92

 


 

As soon as I stood up, the two [redacted] took off their blouses, and started to talk all kind of dirty stuff you can imagine, which I minded less. What hurt me most was them forcing me to take part in a sexual threesome in the most degrading manner. What many [redacted] don’t realize is that men get hurt the same as women if they’re forced to have sex, maybe more due to the traditional position of the man. Both [redacted] stuck on me, literally one on the front and the other older [redacted] stuck on my back rubbing [redacted] whole body on mine. At the same time they were talking dirty to me, and playing with my sexual parts. I am saving you here from quoting the disgusting and degrading talk I had to listen to from noon or before until 10 p.m. p.230

 


 

You, Dear Reader, could never understand the extent of the physical, and much more the psychological, pain people in my situation suffered, no matter how hard you try to put yourself in another’s shoes. Had I done what they accused me of, I would have relieved myself on day one. But the problem is that you cannot just admit to something you haven’t done; you need to deliver the details, which you can’t when you hadn’t done anything. It’s not just, “Yes, I did!” No it doesn’t work that way: you have to make up a complete story that makes sense to the dumbest dummies. One of the hardest things to do is to tell an untruthful story and maintain it, and that is exactly where I was stuck. p.232

 


 

Usually I wouldn’t talk if somebody starts to hurt me. In Jordan, when the interrogator smashed me in the face, I refused to talk, ignoring all his threats. This was a milestone in my interrogation history. You can tell I was hurt like never before; it wasn’t me anymore, and I would never be the same as before. A thick line was drawn between my past and my future with the first hit [redacted] delivered to me. p.258

 


 

“I think prison is one of the oldest and greatest schools in the world: you learn about God and you learn patience. A few years in prison are equivalent to decades of experience outside it.” p.319.

 


 

Part of the dark irony is that most of the intelligence agency suspicions towards Mohamedou seem to derive from his admitted participation in the early 90s. He fought communists with the U.S.-supported mujahideen in the freedom fighter network, which after 9/11 was referred to as al-Qaeda (“the database”) terrorists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamedou_Ould_Slahi

Guantanamo_diary