Ex-gitmo guard who saw 'torture' calls co-workers 'psychotic'
Jeremy Gantz
Published: Saturday January 10, 2009

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As the Guantanamo Bay detention center reached its seventh birthday this week, a U.S. veteran said he witnessed cell beatings, forced head shavings and interrogation tactics--including sleep deprivation, floor shackles and loud music--while guarding detainees there.

"It's torture," Chris Arendt, who worked at Guantanamo when he was 19, told the BBC in this video. "It's a means of extracting information that I didn't even believe these people probably had. It's a means of making their lives more miserable."

Arendt, who joined the U.S. military when he was 17, testified at the Winter Soldier Hearings in Washington D.C. last March.

Wearing an Iraq Veterans Against the War sweatshirt, Arendt told the BBC that many people he worked with at the camp thought of their Guantanamo posting as "vacation."

"...This was the opportunity that they'd always wanted, to be violent and awful people...because they are genuinely psychotic. And for others, it's just a job," Arendt said.

For years, the Guantanamo prison has inspired global protests against alleged U.S. human rights violations. President George W. Bush has said he would like to close the camp, but his administration has been unable to find countries willing to accept many Guantanamo detainees. President-elect Barack Obama has said he will close the prison and prosecute many Guantanamo detainees in the United States.

On Thursday, the U.S. military admitted that 25 Guantanamo detainees -- or 10 percent of the prison's captives -- have starved themselves for weeks and are being fed through tubes in their noses. Human rights groups have called the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers "inhumane and unlawful."

Thirty detainees are currently on a hunger strike.

In testimony during the Winter Soldier Hearings last year, Arendt said: "There were methods [in place at Guantanamo] to make certain that we got around to torturing these people."

The U.S. Department of Defense has said its policy is "to treat detainees humanely."